Pet flipping might have an innocuous name, but it’s a incredibly evil practice. Pet flipping occurs when a criminal acquires a pet, either through theft or claiming to be the pet parent of missing pets seen in “pet found” ads, and then quickly sells the animal for a profit. Flippers often target purebred dogs, because the resale value reaches into the thousands of dollars, but they’ll take any dogs.
Dogs who are stolen but aren’t flipped quickly often live in terrible conditions.
“Many of these pets are housed in puppy mill-like conditions until they can be flipped — no food or water, caged and sick,” said Dawn Contos of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control in a news release, according to the Indy Channel. “Many times those animals that can’t be flipped are dumped to fend for themselves.”
Police say the practice is on the rise in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, but pet flipping is making national news. Today, a segment on pet flipping is being broadcast on Katie, with Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA Adoption Center, and actor and spokesperson for Broadway Barks, Michael Urie. The show airs this afternoon.
In one disturbing case in Indianapolis, a pet flipper tried to sell the dog back to the person who lost it, according to IndyStar.com. A few days after her dog, Raiden, got loose from her home, Elizabeth Arroyo saw an ad for the dog on Craigslist — for sale.
“I was initially furious,” she said. “But I knew we were going to get him back.”
Arroyo discovered the ad thanks to the efforts of the local pet community, members of which are keeping a sharp eye out for pet flippers. Danielle Beck, the operator of website Indy Lost Pet Alert, was one person who helped after Arroyo posted a lost dog ad on her site.
“I couldn’t imagine trying to sell a dog when people are out there looking for him,” she told IndyStar.com. “They know someone loves him.”
Arroyo went with her dad to “buy” the dog, and Raiden freaked out when he saw her mom.
“He stopped for a second, and then ran towards me and jumped up on me,” she said. “He wouldn’t lie down.”
Arroyo and her father kept their cool, negotiated a price with the seller ($900), left to get the money at an ATM, and instead brought back the police, who arrested the woman.
How do you prevent pet flipping? Microchipping your pet is the obvious first step, but don’t forget the importance of spay/neuter, especially if you have a purebred dog. These have a higher value to thieves, as they can breed them and sell their pups.
“Sadly, some of the purebreds who aren’t fixed show up in these garages and are breeding machines,” said KC Theisen, director of pet-care issues for the Humane Society of the United States.