7 Million Dogs and Cats are Lost Every Year.
If someone is looking to make a quick buck, they can take advantage of these statistics. There are kids and adults that are now willing to go so far as to adopt a dog in need, and then sell it to the highest online bidder.
It’s called Dog-flipping.
This is a new twist on dog-snatching. With Dog-Flipping, dogs are stolen, given a new identity, then put up for sale, or “flipped,” on Internet sites like Craig’s List.
Stealing dogs is illegal, but proving that a dog was stolen and didn’t run off is nearly impossible (unless there’s a witness to a theft who comes forward). If the dog is quickly resold, the original owner might never find out where the dog ended up.
Dog Flipping is specifically defined as “the buying or receiving, of a dog, with the intention that the buyer wants them as a pets, but instead the buyer resells the dog for a profit to a third party.”
These “dog-flippers” are posing as feasible adopters, but then pack them in at home with the other dogs that they intend to sell for profit. Police say criminals can make anywhere from $50 to $1,000 on one lost dog, depending on the breed.
Officer Theresa Redmon of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department explained, “Sometimes they’ll just find a missing pet; sometimes they’ll answer a found ad and then they claim to be the owner of that pet. Sometimes they’ll just steal it right out of your yard.”
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 clearly a cause for concern for cat and dog guardians, but also for anyone looking to buy a dog or cat.
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 considered very valuable and used for breeding and dog fighting. That was the case with five pit bulls stolen in Montgomery, Alabama during a week when a total of eight dogs in the neighborhood were reported stolen — The others including dachshunds that owners used for breeding.
Animal theft is also being used as a way to get “bait” for dog-fighting rings. They target animal owners who tether their dogs outside of stores, restaurants or coffee shops while they run in to go about their business.
They gather dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds from backyards to use as “free” bait dogs for dog fighting. –Oh, and the friendlier and more submissive dog, the better.
Police in Indianapolis arrested a man and seized four dogs at the end of a three-month “dog-flipping” investigation. According to Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, this man 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.
Purebreds are more likely to be victims of pet flips, but all dogs are fair game.
Citizens Against Flipping Dogs is bringing awareness to “Dog Flipping” – Their website shows you what to look for.
HOW TO PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING:
1. Of course, the best deterrent is to NEVER leave your dog unattended! – This includes in your yard without adult supervision. Never tie up your dog in front of a store, or leave them in the car, even if you’re only going inside for a short time. New Yorker Mary Ann Dineen paid $500 to recover her lost Maltese, which had been stolen from her front yard during a potty break.
2. Make sure your animal has an ID tag AT ALL TIMES. Whether it’s a quick coffee run or a potty break in the back yard, don’t ever let your animals leave the house without their ID tags. Leashes break, animals slip through fences, and most animals simply cannot resist chasing a squirrel or other distractions. An ID tag with updated contact information will be your first step towards recovery. Check your dog or cat’s tag to make sure the inscription is still legible and the phone number is correct. Adding an email address also helps.
3. Keep up-to-date photos and records. You know you have a few thousand pictures of your fur kids. Well, pet detective Carl Washington shared tips such as selecting one picture to use on fliers. Rather than blanketing the community with thousands of posters, he advises animal guardians to focus on high-traffic areas such as neighborhood entrances and exits, nearby vet clinics and pet stores; if someone has stolen a dog, they may need to make a pit stop for supplies. Your flier could help jog an employee’s memory. Be proactive about spreading the word. Post your pet’s info on free websites such as Craigslist and Lost Pet USA. Contact pet rescue organizations and shelters in neighboring counties. Ask friends and neighbors to join the search and amplify your reach through social media. Note any identifying marks and make it very difficult for anyone to flip your fur kid.
4. Microchip! This is something that I believe should be required for ALL animal companions. It saves lives! A microchip the size of a grain of rice is inserted under the animal’s skin. Each chip has an ID that functions much like a Social Security number. When your animal is recovered, animal shelters and veterinary clinics use a scanner to detect the chip’s ID number. With that number, they can look up your contact information — but only if the chip has been registered.
It’s very important is to register the information and make sure the microchip provider’s database is always current. “Folks may not understand that the chip only holds a number,” said Aimee Gilbreath, executive director of a Los Angeles-based nonprofit called Found Animals, which offers a free online microchip registry. “They think the code is like LoJack or GPS. It’s really important for folks to know that they have to register the chip in the first place — and keep contact info up to date — or the chip is useless.” With updated contact info on file, Found Animals will email, call and send text message alerts up to four days after someone searches the registry. You can have your animal companion microchipped at most veterinary clinics. Microchips are said to last 20 years, so there is no need to remove or replace it in the duration of a pet’s lifetime. And if you plan on adopting a pet, make sure to have it microchipped immediately! Also, if your animal is recovered, you will need to provide proof of ownership. Be sure that all vet records are readily available; animal shelters and veterinary clinics use a scanner to detect the chip’s ID number. With that number, they can look up your contact information — but only if the chip has been registered. Learn more about the importance of microchipping at www.homeagain.com.
5. SPAY AND NEUTER!!!! Animal advocates highly recommend that dog and cat guardians spay or neuter your pets so they can’t be used by criminals for breeding.
6. NEVER use “free to good home ads” when looking for a new home for your pet. Do not place your pet in a new home without checking the new guardian’s references, visiting the premises, or having the new guardians sign a pet adoption contract. See more information on finding a new home for your pet.
“People think it won’t happen to them,” Gilbreath said. “The pet is an indoor pet. It’s always with them, always on the leash. They don’t think about gardener leaving the door open or Hurricane Katrina. They think it won’t happen.”
Pet flipping is a real scam — and it’s on the rise.
Be a Conscious Companion and spread the word about dog flipping. Then do your duty as their guardian to protect them in every way that you can!