A phone scam has been targeting the owners of lost pets in San Francisco who post about them on social media, and SF Animal Care & Control wants everyone to be aware of it.

It's pretty standard caller-ID spoofing scam, but one that is targeting people in an emotionally vulnerable state, and SF Animal Care & Control calls it "appalling."

"The scammers are contacting people with lost pet posts on social media from what appears to be the shelter’s main phone number, 415-554-6364," the agency writes in a Facebook post. "The scammer identifies himself as a staff member of SF Animal Care & Control, tells the pet guardian that the shelter has their pet, then asks for payment via a pay app or a gift card from a retailer."

And the agency wants to make sure everyone knows, "SF Animal Care & Control staff will never ask for service payments to be made over the phone."

Note that, if your pet is lost, it is true that SF Animal Care & Control will charge impound and redemption fees if the animal ends up in their care — but they will only charge those fees in person. That fee schedule is here.

If you have lost a pet in San Francisco, the agency has a number of tips for steps you can take to conduct your own search in your neighborhood, and it includes putting a pet bed or personal item outside by a door so that they can find their scent again, and driving slowly through the neighborhood — dogs sometimes recognize the sound of their guardians' cars.

They also recommend conducting searches at night or in early morning or whenever things are quietest.

Top image: One of the lost or abandoned kittens currently at SF Animal Care & Control's shelter.