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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There are some amazing organizations out there that match people looking for dogs with one that fits their personality and lifestyle, and there's Save A Sato. My kindred spirit, amazing doggie extraordinaire, came from them. They take homeless dogs off the streets of Puerto Rico, house train them, socialize them, nurse them back to health if they need it, and by the time they get to you - it's baffling that they were ever homeless and not trained. Piruli has saved my heart and spirit. He's absolutely amazing and insanely smart. And I'm so glad he didn't die on some street in Puerto Rico, as so many others do every day. The more people who adopt, the less of a market for breeders. While we're at it, let's go after the people who race greyhounds too - what a horrible existence and experience on this planet, while others get to live, love and experience joy - all those animals experience is torture.

Laurie Koppenaal

It would be ideal to have all breeders and pet shops closely monitored but the reality is that the law still has not changed nearly enough to protect the animals wellfare or ever will. These "pets" are really nothing more to the lawmakers than property to be sold. Profit for their supporters will always overrule lawmakers as long as there are people to donate and control them. Any pet you adopt from a shelter is tramatized to some degree and require a lot of TLC and good routine with training. They often don't respond well to being put into a busy situation, such as with children or left alone for long periods. Children can be rough (even if they do not realize it) on these animals, both need lots of time to adjust to each other. I am glad to hear however you found him a good home in the end.


Bridget, it isn't worth my time to comment on your ignorance


You probably run a dog mill.


Umm... besides being a very difficult comment to read, grammatically, almost everything you guessed is entirely incorrect. First of all, it's a shame you experienced difficultly with your shelter dogs, but that's not a reason to boycott the shelter. Animal shelters can be very flawed, even the ASPCA is not perfect. Every year thousands and thousands of adoptable pets are euthanized. The ASPCA could definitely help lower those numbers by cooperating with no kill sanctuaries, like what happened with the Oreo case. That being said, it's possible your first shelter dog could have been saved, but the people running the operation were too lazy and/or afraid of cost. Their was definitely something going on with the situation, and the shelter would appear to be at fault. However, your second dog may have done well with some proper training. Shelter dogs often come with some socialization or behavioral problems. It’s a risk you take when adopting any dog of an unknown background. A little more research prior to adopting that dog would have helped too...

The deal with puppy mills is, in order to stop them some dogs are going to have to be sacrificed. That sounds bad, but it’s really the only solution. Many people want to buy dogs from puppy mills and pet stores because they feel bad for the dog and want to get it out of that situation. It’s hard to ignore that, but you have to in order to fight the problem. That’s why the ASPCA is so persistent in pushing that people pledge to never buy pet store puppies. Not every dog can be saved, unfortunately. Better to rescue dogs from shelters than from puppy mills. And generally shelter dogs are healthy. A good shelter will not adopt out an unhealthy or dangerous dog. Pet stores will.

Secondly, there are laws in place that regulate safety and care for pets. These laws apply to every pet owner or breeder. A puppy mill is, simply, not following those standards. They come from breeders ignoring the laws on proper animal care and usually breeding only for profit. They don’t care about the conditions of the dogs. I guess what I’m trying to get across to you is, there are all of those laws you described as guidelines for puppy mills. Puppy mills are literally operations that break those laws. That’s why animals from puppy mills are generally very sick and unhealthy.

And finally, a good breeder will provide “medical care and follow-ups weeks after the purchase.” Quite honestly, if you adopt from a breeder that doesn’t do that, I would be worried they aren’t caring for their dogs properly or are hiding some bad secret about their animals’ health.

Also, there is zero validity in your statement “it is also more likely a person who pays for a pet will take better care of it than one that is adopted.” I’m sorry, but pets aren’t property. Every single animal should be treated with love, care, and affection, no matter where they come from. Kind of like people.... I would actually argue that people are more likely to take care of shelter pets than pet store pets. Any person can purchase a dog from a pet store, but shelters will, hopefully, do home checks or at least make sure the adopter is financially stable to be able to care for a pet.


You get out of your dog what you put into them. If your dog was having issues with your kids, then it is your responsibility to work with them and be their leader and show them what is expected of them when living in a human world. Training and caring for your pet is a corner stone of responsible pet parenting, and NO dog, no matter where it comes from, is going to be 100% perfect, so if you aren't willing to do the work and raise your dog right, then you should re-think even having a dog. Adopting (or buying) a dog and expecting it to fit right into your life, your routine, your family, and your home flawlessly with no work involved is asinine. That is like having a child and feeding it and cleaning up after it but expecting it to raise itself and become a decent part of human society, get a job, learn to drive, and learn the law without any input from you. You did a good thing by adopting the first two dogs, and it is unfortunate that the first one did not live long, but that is the reality of shelters. Animal shelters receive minimal funding because they are over-crowded and resources are nill. If people would stop buying and start adopting, then less dogs would be bred to produce more puppies for people to buy, and more homes would be available for homeless dogs. By buying a dog, you fed into the very problem you are complaining about. Often dogs come into the shelters already sick, and because they are so over-crowded, its almost a given that any dog coming from a shelter is going to be sick and need treatment. That is just the reality of the situation that shelters are dealing with. If you don't like it, then stop complaining about it and do something about it! Tell your friends to adopt one of the MILLIONS of homeless animals currently sitting while the clock is ticking on their life. Volunteer at the shelter and help socialize these animals so they get adopted faster! Or better yet, DONATE to your local shelter! They are in dire need of funding for medical treatment, food, and other resources to care for all of the dogs and cats that are there because people decided to buy instead of adopt.

If puppy mills are banned then you cut off the supply and the demand goes down. If McDonalds was to shut down, people would have to look for burgers elsewhere. Same with dogs. If the supplier is shut down, they will look to new suppliers, ie: shelters. As the source decreases, people begin to ask questions such as "why were they banned?" and they learn the truth about where their $300-$1500 dog really came from. Puppy mill conditions are far worse than shelters, and over half of the dogs in the shelter are purebred to begin with. The problem is two-fold... the suppliers and the level of education in this country regarding responsible pet ownership. With puppy mills banned, then half of the problem goes away and the nation can shift its focus to educating pet parents to prevent irresponsible breeding from happening again in the future.

Also, responsible breeders will always take their dogs back, no matter how old they get. The problem is finding true blue *responsible* breeders and not confusing them for backyard breeders. If there isn't a contract involved and an interview, possible even a home visit, they are definitely not a responsible breeder. Medical care is always the owner's responsibility, because that is just part of owning a dog. Usually if the issue was congenital, a responsible breeder may give you the option of picking another puppy. Shelters *AND* some rescue organizations often have partnerships with local veterinarians where your first check-up is free, but if they are found to be sick the medications and treatment are still on you. That will never change no matter where you go. The resources are just not there, and definitely not profitable from a business standpoint, to treat every sick dog after it has transferred the ownership to you. Once the adoption papers are signed, the dog is your responsibility. They will treat them and keep them as healthy as possible while they are in their care, but once you adopt the dog it is up to you now. If you can't afford the medical treatment, then you should think hard about whether you are in a good position to even own a dog.


Bridgette.... do yourself a big favor and watch "MADONNA OF THE MILLS" documentary. After you watch that, then tell me if you STILL feel the same way! The best line in that documentary was... "...when you buy that puppy, you're sentencing its mother to a lifetime of misery in a puppy mill." Go to this website and watch the trailer...

Andrea C. Gomez

Bridgette's comment should be flagged as spam as it is obvious this has been posted by a paid person working for a pro pet store organization. People who link to the aspca are true animal lovers who car about the cruelty that goes on in the pet store industry. We don't buy puppies from stores because we don't support cruelty, period! There's so many dogs and cats out there in the shelters, waiting for a new home and we are here to give them one...Does that hurt your pocket Bridgette? Well, you hurt innocent animals and finally you will get what you and your employers deserve.

Andrea C. Gomez

Bridgette's comment should be flagged as spam as it is obvious this has been posted by a paid person working for a pro pet store organization. People who link to the aspca are true animal lovers who car about the cruelty that goes on in the pet store industry. We don't buy puppies from stores because we don't support cruelty, period! There's so many dogs and cats out there in the shelters, waiting for a new home and we are here to give them one...Does that hurt your pocket Bridgette? Well, you hurt innocent animals and finally you will get what you and your employers deserve.


You probably own a pet store or are a puppy mill breeder to have an opinion so lame.