Have you ever heard the term “Dog Flipping”? This was new to me when I recently heard about it. My first thought was “What on earth is Dog Flipping? How does one do it and why would they want to do it? I visualized a person tossing a dog up into the air and watching it flip before landing on its four paws.
So, What Is Dog Flipping?
Little did I know that it was much more sinister than the horrendous picture I had imagined. Dog Flipping involves stealing someone’s dog and selling it, often on Craigslist. Stolen dogs started showing up for sale on Craigslist and other online sales entities about four years ago.
This criminal activity has been noted in various states, even in my beloved home state of Tennessee. Multiple towns in the middle Tennessee area have dealt with this for some time. This crime was happening often enough for a local police department to set up a sting operation in the hope of catching the dog thieves.
When a heartbroken woman reported that her dog had been stolen and then seen advertised for sale on Craigslist, the officers were eager to help. Unfortunately, the thieves must have caught on as they did not show up for the appointed meeting to sell the dog.
The dog owner and police officers were very disappointed to have to go home empty-handed. They were left with old fashioned detective work to locate the dog and determine who had stolen it.
How Serious A Problem Is Dog Flipping?
Investigators report that “dog flipping” continues to be a growing business. The number of calls to the police to report missing or stolen dogs being found on sale online is increasing each year.
Can you imagine having your family’s pet stolen and then finding it being sold online? Dog flippers have been known to establish FaceBook profiles to help them sell stolen dogs. Anyone buying a dog online should do adequate research on the seller before making a purchase. Can you imagine learning that you had purchased a child’s stolen pet?
What Can a Buyer Do To Avoid Getting Tricked Into Assisting the Criminals Guilty of Dog Flipping?
Before making an online purchase of a dog, be sure to contact your local rescue group or animal shelter. Ask them if a missing dog report has been filed that is consistent with the dog you intend to purchase.
Also, verifying whether or not the dog has a microchip can be very helpful. If you cannot do this before making the purchase, at least do so immediately thereafter. If a microchip is found and an owner located, it is best for all concerned before you become attached to someone else’s furry family member. It can also help in the prosecution of the dog thieves.
What Cab Dog Owners Do To Fight Dog Flipping?
It would be of great help if dog owners encouraged the local animal shelters to develop a database of information on dog flippers and lost or stolen dogs. Most dog rescue groups would be willing to help locate these criminals if such information were available to them.
As we see the dog rescue industry expanding, a growing number of owners and their dogs will fall victim to thieves flipping dogs. They do not mind breaking the owner’s hearts as long as they make a profit.
This is not a new criminal act, it is just growing in magnitude. After stealing a dog they often sell it as a rescued animal to honest purchasers who have no idea the dog was stolen. However, there is a variation on this theme. Some thieves scour animal shelters where a dog is advertised as having been found. They pretend to be the rightful owner and immediately sell the dog for a profit.
In Another State, Another Way of Dog Flipping Seen
Sadly, there was a person involved in a dog rescue group who reportedly stole a purebred dog they knew they could easily sell. They told potential buyers he had been rescued from an abusive situation and fostered until ready for adoption into a loving, forever home.
Thankfully the dog was located. The new family learned they had purchased a stolen dog. And, although saddened to lose him, they returned the dog to his rightful owner and also loving family..
The original owner contacted the rescue owner trying to locate the dog. They had hoped to find he had somehow ended up there. Because the rescue owner kept quiet about where the dog could be found a theft warrant against the rescue owner was issued by a local judge.
In 1966, the Animal Welfare Act was enacted primarily, as described by the Congressional Research Service, “to prevent pets from being stolen for sale to research laboratories.”Now, more than 50 years later, criminals abuse the Good Samaritan act of “animal rescue” to make a profit.
Dog flipping has grown exponentially since 2008.
With this problem becoming bigger each year, dog owners need to take action to prevent it from happening to them. Here are a few useful tips to keep your dog safe from these dog flippers hoping to make a few bucks by stealing your dog.
- Microchip identification makes it more likely that you will get a stolen dog returned to you.
- If you decide to have your dog microchipped, contact the National Crime Information Center and ask to have both the dog’s description and his unique serial number, posted in the ‘stolen article’ category
Prevention Is Better Than Resolution of A Problem
- Keep your dog on leash when out of your own yard.
- Avoid leaving your dog unattended for any period of time in your yard.
- Regardless of the weather, do not leave your dog unattended in an automobile, even if it is locked.
- Never leave your dog tied outside a building while you run if “for just a minute”.
- Be judicious in what information you share with strangers about your dog. This is especially true if they seem to ask a lot of questions about him.
What to do if your dog is stolen
- Do not delay in making both a police and animal control report about your dog being stolen.
- Thoroughly canvass your neighborhood, especially checking his favorite places. Even if stolen, dogs sometimes get away and hide in the first familiar place they find. And, possibly, they ran away instead of being stolen.
- Always have a current photo of your dog to be used on fliers for local distribution if lost or stolen. It can also be used on Face Book or other social media.
- Contact your local media outlets and ask for their help.
Here are two wonderful reunion stories.