Warning: Pet Flipping on the Rise

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 2:00pm
Blue leash on the ground

A disturbing new trend—“pet flipping”—has been getting a lot of attention this week.

Pet flipping involves a criminal picking up a pet, either by stealing the animal or claiming to be the pet parent of a missing pet, and then quickly selling the animal for a profit. Is your blood boiling yet? It gets worse!

According to Time, pet flipping is on the rise in cities including Kansas City, St. Louis and Indianapolis. The stolen dogs are often purebred and very valuable. In March, an Indianapolis man was arrested after a three-month investigation found he had been stealing dogs for years, mostly purebred German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. 

“Many of these pets are housed in puppy mill-like conditions until they can be flipped—no food or water, caged and sick,” Dawn Contos, of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, said in an interview following the arrest.

For tips on finding a lost pet, please visit our pet care section.

We'll be on Katie on Monday, July 22 to talk about pet flipping. Check your local listings and tune in!

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I volunteer with a rescue and I don't think you truly understand what you are saying... It's true that rescues will accept what other people deem as "garbage" because the person has grown bored of it and then ask an adoption fee of anywhere between $75 and a couple hundred dollars but I don't think that you realize these rescues (if they are true, good rescues) are thousands of dollars in dept because they try to pay for all of these animals medical bills out of their own pockets... They give these animals a safe and loving home until a permanent one can be found (which can take years to find the right home by the way, many of the pets never find a forever home and spend all of their days with the rescue but at least they can die peacefully, in the arms of someone who really does care about them and love them... someone who has not deemed them as trash but who has seen the precious soul that resides inside.) They save countless lives by taking in pets that are considered un-redeemable or who would otherwise be euthanized and open up more space so that dogs coming into the shelters have a chance... I do believe shelters and rescues could make more of an effort to educate the public on abandoning or giving up pets for ridiculous reasons but many of them are doing their best to help... Before you condemn them try volunteering for a rescue or shelter before making judgments on how they work... Who knows, maybe you could save a couple lives yourself.

Lindsay Goldring

Amen. Breeders & shelters must be working together. We all must be working together.

S. O. Rooney

Amy, you and everybody else are going to hate me here, but I don't agree that people should stop breeding purebred cats (and dogs). I think your view is extreme and a bit fanatical. I love all animals, too. I have adopted many shelter cats, and always go out of my way to adopt the older ones. I feel that they have so much character, frankly, as well as need. I also make a monthly donation to ASPCA, as well as several other animal welfare groups, even though my income is limited. However, I feel that there is room for purebred cats and dogs as well. Not all purebreds are raised in squalid conditions, by any means. While I have adopted many shelter pets, I have had two Maine Coons. The one that is still living is 16, and I am already dreading the day I lose him, though it is bound to come. I love my Maine Coon so much, I can't tell you. I've loved all of my cats so very much. But this Maine Coon, Jinx, is my best buddy. He is so kind, and gentle and loving. Maine Coons do have a very special personality. So while the majority of my cats always will be rescues and strays, I also have room in my heart for some purebreds, too.

M Dyer

S.O. Rooney - you're so right. Purebred breeders have NOTHING at all to do with backyard breeders, or just plain people that don't give a rat's ..... about their female or male breeding and producing pups that go to shelters. So what Amy said is really ignorant! No, I've never bought a purebred dog from a breeder, but I believe we need them to produce healthy well taken care of puppies! Most dogs in shelters come from "free roaming" parents and can't be blamed on responsible breeders!

M Dyer

Forgot to mention that I'm a volunteer with a local rescue, I do NOT know any breeders at all so I'm not defending someone I know. I just know the difference between a good responsible breeder and a backyard breeder or a don't-care person that doesn't believe in having is animal castrated but let it run free anyway!


I couldn't agree more. I grew up with purebred dogs, have had at least one for many years, did breed rescue, etc. But we've also done rescue and foster for "mutts" and ferals for a very long time. There is much to recommend about a purebred dog or cat - primarily understanding what to expect. BUT - one should deal with a small scale, reputable breeder. Right now only one of our five dogs is a purebred and she is quite old. At this point, I personally cannot justify the expense of a well-bred pedigree dog though it would be a pity to see their magnificent traits go by the wayside. If, e.g., you have worked with a sporting or herding dog you can understand how remarkable they are and the kind of bond they form with their humans. We should be concerned with puppy mills. That is the real problem.


You should not be so judgmental about buying a pet. Many buy dogs for hunting based upon the breeding. This has allot to do with how well they work. You can not participate in hunt tests and get championships with an impure dog. Although you will find most people involved with the AKC (which is the most responsible animal rights group in the USA and most proven) advocate the adoption of pets. There is alot said about adopting a good pet. However, there is also a place for people who participate in sports or showing to have a pure bred dog. While I do agree that puppy mills should not be allowed. I do recognize that responsible breeders are more careful than most humane societies in the way that they treat their animals. Adoption is not the only right way. I on the other hand say that most dogs are the product of irresponsible breeding and end up in shelters because of the end result of the irresponsible people who started the mess of breeding recklessly. As a matter of fact most responsilble breeders do not kill puppies or dogs like the humane society does because they are responsible. They will give away the pup they do not sell to a good home and not charge like humane societies do. I know that some groups will only point out the bad things about breeders and never highlight the things that responsible breeders practice. There is allot more to the animal world than some of the crap you read in the media.

C Patterson

I respectively disagree. Buying ONLY shelter dogs would result in the end of any breed. Keep in mind i have got many dogs from shellters, and so do responsible breeders when they are involved in adopting pets and rescues. I 'm not talking puppy mills, i mean serious committed to ONE breed, dog Kennels , where they breed to the dogs country of origin's standards. This means careful selection and pairing of compatible dogs to stop the influx of bad hips, elbows etc and questionable temperaments. Because the U.S breeds so willy nilly, i.e. the puppy mills, we have dogs being dumped for various reasons including health and squirrelly temperaments whereas these problems are virtually unheard of from REPUTABLE breeders. These people don't advertise in the newspaper purebreds for two or three hundred dollars , their dogs can be as much as 2,000.00 dollars and have the pedigrees to back it up. So let people have freedom of choice to but from a top line kennel or adopt from a shelter, have the general public encouraged to spay and neuter, (shelter dogs are anyway) and teach responsible dog handling and ownership. But don't punish reputable breeders, who care and do more for all dogs, than they are given credit for. Where do you think that law enforcement and the military get THEIR dogs? That's right, not shellters, or puppy mills, but reputable kennels that also sell to families like mine that just want a good quality German Shepherd with proven generations of a stable temperament.

Frisco"s Mom

I agree with Janet. That is lame as it comes.


I agree with you Janice...that is a very lame excuse!

Shelter dogs are wonderful pets. Pet stores get puppies from Puppy Mills and they are unhealthy AND live in horrific conditions along with their parents...then they are bathed and fluffed up just for presentation at the pet stores. The parents of these puppies are OVERBRED! Legalizing Puppy Mills is not the answer and is a foolish thing to say. There are already reputable breeders out there who care about their particular breed and make sure they breed healthy puppies and do not overbreed the mother just to make money. All puppies have a forever home before the litter is even born, BECAUSE they care about the animals. Puppy Mills are in it for the money only and that is why they cram the puppies in cages on top of each other where the urine and feces falls onto the animals below them. Puppy Mills need to be shut down! There are animals being put down every day because they don't have a home.
Shelters are the best place to adopt a pet! Or a reputable breeder. Adopt being the key word. NOT PURCHASE from a pet store. They are not a "thing" to buy!