‘Pet Flipping’ Is Now a Thing

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The term sounds absurd, along the lines of “cat juggling,” the fake underground gag used for laughs in the old Steve Martin film The Jerk. But apparently, pet flipping is a real scam — and it’s on the rise.

In a typical pet-flipping situation, a criminal will get hold of a pet — either by stealing it or seeing the animal in a “Pet found” poster or ad on Craigslist and claiming to be the owner — and then turn around and sell it for a quick profit. It’s a cause for concern for pet owners, obviously, but also for anyone looking to buy a dog or cat. The scam is an extension of dognapping, a trend that the American Kennel Club reported spiking in recent years.

Police say that pet flipping has reportedly been on the rise in places such as Kansas City, St. Louis and Indianapolis. Indy Lost Pet Alert claims to have helped to reunite 2,670 pets with their owners in the Indianapolis area since the service launched in March 2012.

An Indianapolis Star article rehashed the story of one attempted pet flip that occurred not long ago. A few days after Elizabeth Arroyo’s dog Raiden disappeared in June, Arroyo was forwarded a message showing what appeared to be the dog on Craigslist — not reported as found, but for sale. Arroyo and her father met with the seller, realized quickly that indeed it was Raiden, and then settled on a sale price of $900. Instead of going to an ATM for cash, however, they went to the police.

(MORE: Millions on Pet Halloween Costumes? Why We Spend More and More on Pets)

It’s unclear how organized and strategic pet thieves and dog flippers are, but in some cases it appears as if criminals target their prey very carefully. Often, the dogs that disappear are very valuable and used for breeding. That was the case with five pit bulls stolen in Montgomery, Ala., not long ago, during a week when a total of eight dogs in the neighborhood were reported stolen — the others including dachshunds that owners used for breeding.

Earlier this year, police in Indianapolis arrested a man named Johnny Jones Jr. and seized four dogs at the end of a three-month “dog-flipping” investigation. According to Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, Jones had been acquiring purebred German shepherds, rottweilers and pit bulls for years, some allegedly via illegal means, and he resold many of them.

“Sadly, some of the purebreds who aren’t fixed show up in these garages and are breeding machines,” Danielle Beck, who runs Indy Lost Pet Alert, told the Indianapolis Star.

A volunteer in Kansas City named Jennifer O’Neil agreed that purebreds are more likely to be victims of pet flips. “They’ll see a purebred Boxer at a certain location, then they’ll call and say, Oh, my God! You’ve found my dog. Thank you so much,” O’Neil explained to a local TV station. “They pick it up and flip it under the pets ad. Sell it for a profit.”

(MORE: 5 Weird Things People Are Stealing While the Economy’s in Bad Shape)

Pet advocates suggest that owners get pets spayed or neutered so they can’t be used by criminals for breeding. It’s also recommended that pets have a microchip implanted, so that they can be identified even if an identifying collar is removed.

112 comments
selnari
selnari

A few days after Elizabeth Arroyo’s dog Raiden disappeared in June, Arroyo was forwarded a message showing what appeared to be the dog on Craigslist. I was actually captured with the piece of resources you have got here. Find out the most wonderfull kosmetik for your pets

MadMan
MadMan

You want to know how to fix the over population of pets in this country? Eat them. Cook them up and feed them to poor people who do not have enough to eat. It seems we can breed cats and dogs faster then we could eat them.

RoxanneRoxanadanna
RoxanneRoxanadanna

Oh heck, another disappointing article. The intent upon reading this was to find out who would toss a cat or dog in the air, spin it around, & watch it splat on the ground.  Instead, all this is is about a form of financial misconduct.   Is there any reason to believe animal companions are being mistreated in this fashion? If so, has anyone noticed whether or not dead cat bounces exist?



glennra3
glennra3

Here is a way to combat pet flipping: STOP BUYING DESIGNER PETS!!!


People spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars for these animals, many of which come from horrible puppy mills. 


They give you no more enjoyment or companionship than a brown mutt rescued from the pound. People buy them for their own egos and vanity.

RennieMiller
RennieMiller

@glennra3 You are absolutely right. Millions of pets are euthanized every year for lack of homes, it's horrible that people keep breeding more pets.

pitypat247
pitypat247

@RennieMiller @glennra3 It's even more horrible that the Humane Society of the United States has been importing THOUSANDS of meat industry dogs from China and Korea, to sell in shelters here in the United States.  Canine distemper and brucellosis (dog venereal disease)
 are rampant in those countries, and since the HSUS started importing dogs from there, we now have a major distemper outbreak in Chicago and brucellosis in Canada.  Of course, this furthers the agenda of the animal rights movement to eradicate all human use and ownership of animals!!!


Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

Fear of pet flipping ought to be low on the list of reasons why dogs should be spayed or neutered.  One trip to your local shelter is all it should take to convince one there are MORE than enough dogs to go around!

What many dog owners know about caring for their animals is shameful.  The term, "breeder," the meanings of which run the gamut, from fancier to merchandiser, is so misunderstood, to the casual dog owner.  We all have heard about puppy mills...merchandisers with no respect for the lives of their "breeding stock" or "inventory."

Just as responsible for dog overpopulation in the US, however, are ''backyard breeders,'' most of whom have NO idea of what they're doing.  Whether the resulting litters were the results of carelessness...or profit motives...they're almost as insidious as mills.  The State of California had to enact the draconian measure of FORCED neutering of most dogs--at four months, which is two months earlier than 'ideal'--in an attempt to curb the overpopulation of dogs, there.

The latest bastardization of dog breeding is ''designer dogs,'' in which two breeds are mated to create labradoodles, goldendoodles and other MUTTS.  Not only are NEITHER the dams nor sires involved, usually much to brag about, but their offspring are even MORE questionable!  That people would seek out, then pay exorbitant prices for these mutts...well, that just encourages more irresponsible breeding efforts.  The attractiveness of potential profit is all that lures sellers of these dogs.

...which gets me back to the topic at hand.  In most states, the laws against these crimes are based on the "value" of the animals that are trafficked.  For instance, a pet store in NY is robbed of four puppy-mill-sourced Maltese puppies.  Dogs of that quality are a dime-a-dozen but, since they are the store's inventory, are valued at...say, $1,250.  If apprehended, the thieves would be charged with Grand Larceny, because they stole merchandise "worth" $5,000, NOT because the merchandise stolen consisted of dogs.  Same goes for flippers.  If a guy gets caught flipping some family's German Shepard Dog, he'll get his wrist slapped and, maybe, fined.  His risk/reward ratio is in his favor.

What this story doesn't address, is where thousands of stolen/"adopted" dogs go.  There are "dog dealers," who sell dogs to laboratories, who use them for testing.  Dog dealers buy dogs--no questions asked--from sellers who steal/connive dogs from their rightful owners.  There's a fascinating documentary, which originally aired on HBO, called "Dealing Dogs."  As heartbreaking as it is to watch, it's a must-see for anyone who "could never neuter my dog."  It's also a cautionary tale for those who don't keep close-enough watch on their dogs.  I can't remember the exact numbers, but, when dogs disappear, they're unlikely to ever return.  Chipping greatly enhances the likelihood of of reunion...but once in the hands of nefarious sorts, forget about it.

What can animal lovers do?  First, ADOPT your pets.  From the tiniest Yorkies, to Great Danes...and everything in-between...there are rescue organizations overwhelmed with great dogs.  Shelters are also wonderful sources for dogs who will worship the ground on which you walk, in thanks for saving them from cages!  Second, sign up on the Humane Society of the US website.  You will receive notifications of upcoming votes in local and national legislatures, concerning animal welfare.  Third, STAY AWAY from pet stores which deal in puppies and kittens!  Don't reward them by patronizing them in any fashion...and, for God's sake, NEVER buy an animal from these stores!

My last suggestion isn't for everybody, for sure...it entails talking to that guy at the dog park...you know, the guy who brings his intact dog in, then spends all his time excusing his dog's aggressive behavior.  Alas, most of the time, it will be as effective as talking to a wall.  Sometimes, though, it has to do with the cost being too much.  Without delving into the stupidity of people who can't afford taking care of their animals, I mention low-cost options, which are available in most areas.  There are TWO regulars at my park who just recently took advantage of these services.  I count both of them as personal victories!!!

As with most issues, education is the key.  TALK to people who think it would be great to breed their dogs!  Work them through the emergency vet bills...talk about overpopulation...convince them to "snip-snip!"  My little doggy is a great ice-breaker/ambassador for such conversations.  He's proof that a rescue dog can truly be man's best friend...

RekkaRiley
RekkaRiley

@Juan'tAjob I would also add in two other points:

1.   People need to stop thinking of owning a pet as a "right," as something they are owed.  Pets are an enormous responsibility, like children.  They are not objects that exist for our amusement, they were created to be symbiotic companions.  That means we owe them, not the other way around.

2.  Consumers should be encouraged to ask for a legal contract from anyone they get a pet from, be it a breeder, an adoption agency, or just a neighbor who can't keep their pets anymore.

Asking for a contract will usually scare the scam artists off, because a contract means they can be held legally accountable if the animal is not 100% what they said it was.

Most professional breeders and rescues require new pet owners to sign a contract, which often includes clauses about required spaying/neutering and returning the animal to the breeder/rescue if the new owner realizes they can't keep it. 

Anyone who claims the animal they have is "registered" (AKC, CFA, TICA, AFRMA, etc.), but are either trying to rehome them on Craigslist or breeding them and selling the offspring, is guilty of violating a contract.

Unfortunately, since so many people see owning pets as some sort of human right, they become angry when a responsible breeder or rescue tells them "No, we will not allow you to adopt one of our animals because you have not proven yourself capable of caring for them to our satisfaction."

So they turn to BYB and puppy mills instead. :(

pitypat247
pitypat247

@Juan'tAjob It's even more horrible that the Humane Society of the United States has been importing THOUSANDS of meat industry dogs from China and Korea, to sell in shelters here in the United States.  Canine distemper and brucellosis (dog venereal disease)
 are rampant in those countries, and since the HSUS started importing dogs from there, we now have a major distemper outbreak in Chicago and brucellosis in Canada.  Of course, this furthers the agenda of the animal rights movement to eradicate all human use and ownership of animals!!!

pitypat247
pitypat247

@RekkaRiley @Juan'tAjob It's even more horrible that the Humane Society of the United States has been importing THOUSANDS of meat industry dogs from China and Korea, to sell in shelters here in the United States.  Canine distemper and brucellosis (dog venereal disease)
 are rampant in those countries, and since the HSUS started importing dogs from there, we now have a major distemper outbreak in Chicago and brucellosis in Canada.  Of course, this furthers the agenda of the animal rights movement to eradicate all human use and ownership of animals!!!

mudd1962
mudd1962

I thought everyone had their pets microchipped these days? If you have the money to buy an expensive dog, it's a little naive to overlook this important step, no?

RekkaRiley
RekkaRiley

@mudd1962 People often don't realize that you have to get the microchip registered before it will work.

That's how I ended up with one of my cats.

He was a stray wandering around, getting into other peoples' homes, and no one could remember where he came from.

We picked him up (he was extremely friendly, clearly used to being handled), took him to the vet to scan for a chip to at least try and track down his owners...

But there was nothing on the microchip.  The chip was there, but it was totally blank.

My second cat, who I got as a kitten, has a partially registered microchip.  It has his name and the name of the vet who put it in, and the vet has my contact information on file.  People often assume that the microchip is just automatically registered, but it usually isn't.

He also has a tag on his collar that says "indoor-only," so anyone who finds him outside will know that he is not supposed to be wandering around out there, and they'll hopefully be more likely to call the number on his tag.

mharan
mharan

Just like poor Buck in jack London's "Call of the wild."

bobbutts
bobbutts

Dog flipping was central to the plot in the movie Seven Psychopaths

lin
lin

It's really messed up that these low life's (that most likely don't know what a hard days worth of work in their sad life is actually like) have to steal our family members for money. People need to be more responsible as their owner, instead of leaving them outside all day in a fenced in yard unattended need to monitor them. This day and age unfortunately you can't even let your children play in the streets with out keeping an eye on them and as far as I'm concerned pets are your children for a good 7-15 years. And for the ones that break into homes, they deserve the worst. Shelters should be a place where they strays are picked up and where they can be reunited with their family again. Not for Johnny to go, well didn't care for him that much anyway, I'm much better off, or even craigslist to exist for this reason. Or what I hear ALL the time. I'm moving and can't take them with me. So when things get tough are you just gonna put your kid on the side of the road, then carry on because now that load in your life just got a little lighter? Dog's are the most loyal to us and we just throw them away. Dog's also are just not cute, they have a language and the reason why people have problems with their pets is they either think what their dog is doing is cute, which is in fact your dog telling you it's in charge and down the road there will be problems (your no longer alpha), or YOU the owner is telling your dog all the wrong things and you give them stress and anxiety. You wonder why you don't have a bond with your dog, well you need to take the time to learn to understand one another. Part of the reason we have so many strays is because people don't want to spend the money to get their dog fixed. (Sorry fellas, hear it all too much) Most men don't want their male dogs fixed, Oh i just can't bring myself to do that to him.. Well you can protect yourself from reproduction, animals can't. And that's when i refer to your family member as an animal. You take that unneeded drive away and you have a much happier dog.  People who don't want to get their females fixed and honestly deal with the mess that comes when they are in heat... well if a females reproductive organs are not used, they have an increased chance of cancer. Or just don't feel like doing it. So many people bash breeders. Tell you what, look up a reputable breeder (that actually health tests) and chances are most don't even have puppies on the way, or if they do they have maybe 3 that are going on 3. Because they are still trying to get them good homes. Or have people on a waiting list and when they get the right amount they then breed. You just HAVE to have that 2 pound yorkie, that big strong shepard, that cute little maltese, or that golden(doodle). Well if it wasn't for the people that put their heart/smarts about breeding you wouldn't have that option. Now the people that go...I have a great idea to make money... which is wrong, you don't go around having kids like that. Yea there is that whoops but you know the chances that come with it, and then the people that want a family. But the worst is, oh my dog is cute I would love to have one of it's puppies. That's great! Now where do the other 5-8 of the other ones born go? People just don't think. As the rescue groups go I know people that have their heart in the right place and they don't get a lot of the money back from what they put into your rescue dog, which is why they are asking for what they are. If it's too much money they ask what it's going towards. And yes there are groups that are in it for the money. ( I know of a place that takes dogs right from the shelter to petsmart adoptions. Just imagine how scared they are) But that's why when YOU decide to take on the responsibility of adding a four legged family member, you need to do your research. There are different breeds out there with different traits, just because it's cute doesn't mean it's right for you. You have a busy work life and you don't have the extra hour in your day to give it that 2 hour play it needs because it's an active dog not a couch potato. Then that could mean your gonna have that dog that rips your house apart and now the trouble starts. People need to think, life is one big responsibility. What's best for you and for that animal. 

wandiferous2
wandiferous2

Yikes. Thanks for this information, Brad.

JimAllen
JimAllen

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James7
James7

@JimAllen That webpage sucks.  What are you running it on, an old 386?  Get a new server on get off the net.

MarAnnPie
MarAnnPie

@OuttaDboxTwinkie not every rescue "trolls" for cute little doggies and then resell them THOUGH I can think of a few that do, its called "cherry picking, I usually get the sick or special needs or seniors from the local DOG POUND, and then spend tons of money getting them well while they take up foster space because they are NOT highly adoptable, BUT at least they are not dead, So NO, not all rescues do that. And our adoption fees are low rarely have I asked over 200 dollars for a pet regardless of how much I have put into its care. Many of these pets are purebred and all are completely cared for. 

RekkaRiley
RekkaRiley

@MarAnnPie @OuttaDboxTwinkie The official rescues in my area, like PAWS, the ASPCA, and the Humane Society, never ask for more than $175, even for puppies and kittens.

Anyone charging more than that, at least around where I live, is most likely selling for a profit.

The ones that use the excuse of "we paid X amount and we'd like to recuperate our losses" if full of crap.  Pets are not stocks!

OuttaDboxTwinkie
OuttaDboxTwinkie

In TX they set up so-called "rescue" centers, then  they troll the pounds for the cutest, little house dogs, get them for free because they offer to take them off the pound's hands and put them into no-kill "rescue centers" where you have to pay $200-$500 to "adopt" them.    It is impossible to find a small, cute dog here in the pound Where the price is around $100 to adopt.    You have to buy them from these scammers.   Because that's what they do all day, troll for these dogs.

catmndu
catmndu

@OuttaDboxTwinkie Seriously?  Try buying a completely spayed/neutered and up to date on veterinary care pet from a breeder for $200-500.  Not to mention most rescues house their dogs in foster homes, where the foster family can tell you a lot about the dog and have put some time and effort into housetraining and obedience training for you.  Always people that want something for nothing, assuming because a dog is a "rescue" it's somehow not worth much.  Contrary to popular belief, probably less than 5% of dogs in rescue programs come to the rescue with any vetting, the group has to cover all of that + any health issues the dog has on top of that.

JackieNichols1
JackieNichols1

@OuttaDboxTwinkie I had to fight one of these rescue groups to be able to adopt my golden retriever.  I had seen her picture on the pound's website the night before and showed up an hour before the pound's opening the next day to be first in line (I know golden retrievers go fast!  Two other people in line were there to adopt the same dog!).  After playing with the dog for 30 minutes or so, I told the staff I wanted to adopt her and was in the process of filling out the paperwork when volunteers from the local Golden Retriever rescue group (one of the largest and most well known in the country) showed up.  Apparently, they had seen her on the website too and thought that because they were a rescue group, they had first dibs.  They tried to tell me that I had to apply to adopt her from them (at a fee of $500).  I had to argue up 3 levels of the chain of command at the pound to finally have the dog released to me.

What really irks me is that I later went to the rescue group's website and saw that they had dozens of golden retrievers for "sale" (they call it adoption, but at $500 a head, I question that term).  Some had been waiting for a home for months.  So they were going to deny this dog a home NOW to make her compete with dozens of other goldens and possibly wait MONTHS for a home all because they knew eventually they would make a profit off of her.

I can't help but wonder how many of the dogs they "rescued" would have been adopted within days if left at the pound where adoption fees are much lower.  I know the two other people in line with me would have gladly taken one.  If they really wanted to help dogs, they would go for the mutts, Chihuahuas, and Pit Bulls (my local pound is full with Chihuahuas and Pit Bulls) that inevitably end up being put down at the pound.  Instead, they go after a very popular breed to make a false short supply and exhort $500 a head from people.

HoZ
HoZ

@catmndu @OuttaDboxTwinkie I don't think it's always about wanting something for nothing, but spending $200-$500 on "adopting" a dog is still VERY high for many. Just because someone can't afford prices that high, does not mean they can't care for their animal either. Rescue groups sometimes forget that good homes can be found in homes where money is tight. And if there's an emergency with the dog, there are always vets that will take payment plans. Making adoption prices SO high, still feeds into a broken system where the end result is more lives being killed. IMO

RekkaRiley
RekkaRiley

@HoZ @catmndu @OuttaDboxTwinkie Most official rescues never charge more than $175, even for a puppy or kitten.

The rescues charging more than $200 are scammers, plain and simple.  No matter how much they insist that they really care about the animals.

If PAWS and the Humane Society can adopt out animals that are fixed, fully vaccinated, with full medical history and a contract, with minimal funding, than I really don't see why these other "rescues" can justify charging more than them.

MeesterTaco
MeesterTaco

@MarilynKnappLitt People who feel the need to "own" living things are enabling this. I wouldn't image someone would take ownership for their actions these days - let's blame a website instead! I guess slavery is ok if it's animal slavery. Right? Rather than experience animals in their natural habitat, let's breed them to be less wild and keep them in our homes so they can live out their lives in a cage. That about right? Yeah, let's blame Craigslist. What a joke.   

kylewotto
kylewotto

@KeithSwerling @MeesterTaco @MarilynKnappLitt 

I don't think he missed the point. Craigslist is just one of many methods these people could be utilizing as a medium to allow for this. The human desire for pets is the driving factor is his point.

"Don't shoot the messenger" --Craigslist is just the messenger in this case. 

Do you blame ebay for the scams that end up going on there? 

KeithSwerling
KeithSwerling

@kylewotto @KeithSwerling @MeesterTaco @MarilynKnappLitt A quick lesson.  Pick a city in CraigsList and go to the "Pets" section.  Each city's Pet section has at least 10 to 30 breeders or flippers selling pets.  CL has agreed that there should be no Pet Selling.  But it is an  non-moderated market which perpetuates selling.  Just like when CL was allowing sex ads.

The illegal market needs to be shut down.  It's not a messenger, like Time posting this story.  These pets are not scams.

As it becomes more difficult to find a venue to sell their pets, it becomes less and less profitable for them.

Were CL to shut off pet sales, these pet resellers would be devastated.

If we followed your logic, sex ads and sex trafficking would still be a section in CL, yes?

MeesterTaco
MeesterTaco

@lowvolt99 I love animals and I think they should be free. You're free to justify owning another living organism however you see fit. 

ItsMyOpinion
ItsMyOpinion

@MeesterTaco @MarilynKnappLitt I'm curious - what is the 'natural habitat' for the domesticated dog if not the family home?  Besides, most family pets don't live out their lives in cages...at least not in my home.

CodeofHonorworkingdogrescue
CodeofHonorworkingdogrescue

@MarilynKnappLitt , I completely agree that CL makes it so very easy. Flipping is huge in my city AND on CL. Although there will always be flippers, if CL stopped allowing dogs/cats to be placed on their site, flipping would be drastically reduced.

RekkaRiley
RekkaRiley

@MeesterTaco @lowvolt99 Humans would never have evolved to their current state if we hadn't domesticated animals.

I agree that people should not feel they have a "right" to own an animal.

Domesticated animals were meant to be part of a symbiotic companionship with humans.  We both helped each other.  Our civilization would never have stood a chance if we hadn't domesticated animals.

I have two cats and three mice myself, and my sister has a dog who is a retired herding dog.  My cats are indoor-only because domestic cats are an invasive species, and letting them outdoors puts them at risk of death and disfigurement.  I make sure they have plenty of stimulation and opportunities to exercise their natural instincts (not on the mice though), none of which requires that I let them "free" to harm the environment.

While I somewhat understand where you are coming from, your stance is way too extreme.

You forget that humans are animals too.  We are just as much a part of nature as they are, and living in harmony with them does not require completely isolating ourselves from the rest of Nature.  That is not how Nature works, and it never will be.  

Humans crave animal companionship on an instinctive level; petting a dog or cat provides the same rush of endorphins and bonding hormones as holding a baby, or hugging another person.

I strongly suggest you read "Animals Make Us Human" by Temple Grandin.  She does a wonderful job of examining the evolution of both humans and domestic animals, and how we both changed each other.