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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First of all, you sign an agreement that there are no guarantees on the health of a puppy/dog from a shelter. You should have taken the puppy to YOUR vet if you were concerned and had the puppy treated the way you felt fit. Obviously you had no problem returning the animal to a high kill shelter! Secondly, there are NEVER any guarantees on the breed of an animal. There is a guess as to what breed they present as or are turned in as..... also no guarantees on the temperament. You should have temp tested the dog before taking it home.

Getting from a breeder does not GUARANTEE the temperament or health issue either. Its just saying I paid a lot of money for my dog so it MUST be PERFECT!!! NOT SO!

Certified Thera...

This comment actually makes me sick. You can purchase purebred dogs without going to pet stores. Good, reputable breeders can be found. I work in the animal welfare community and i can't tell you how many people purchased puppies from a pet store with the same ideas, only to find out that they are horribly, horribly wrong. I've seen hundreds of puppy mill dogs with horrid health issues. Don't get my wrong, i'm sure some shelter dogs have health issues too, but you don't pay $1,000 for a messed up puppy with health problems.


Bridgette - there are alternatives to even shelters, pet stores, breeders - like rescues that have the dogs in their homes for sometimes weeks before they are adopted and require full vetting and microchipping. I have had full designer breed puppies from shelter rescued mothers that have been DNA tested to being some of the highest sought after breeds.

I suggest you go to a puppy mill before ever making comments about them. I used to rescue from the midwest where animals were literally 3-4 in a cage, cages stacked 2x on top of one another so poop fell on the dogs below them, covered in feces, neurologically unable to walk on solid ground after becoming accustomed to cages. And when a dog isnt able to go to the auction house, the amish farmers will sometimes shoot them. They dont end up at the shelters. So that's where your lovely designer breed came from after being cleaned up - its more mom and the other dogs breeding I'm worried about as they get dumped after they arent producing desirable stock. Regulating them is great IF you can FIND them...

And the other problem is backyard breeders. Folks just breed to pay their rent or electric bills without any vaccinations, deworming, etc. Those are the parvo pups, the distemper, the worm and tick infested that end up in shelters. This is a major problem around any metropolis area. Search Craigslist Phoenix or LA pets to see how bad the problem is there in the 2 highest euthanasia areas in the nation.

IMHO - we need to focus on licensing reputable breeders better and putting a smack down on backyard breeding and those without licenses. We need to make people understand the actual seriousness of the CRIME. Those caught need much higher penalties to dissuade the breeding in the first place. Also the "kennels" of puppy mills with licenses need more visits and regulations as USDA ASPCA and Humane and other folks have to raid after the situation gets dire.

I dare you to go to a dog auction where the dogs are held by the neck being auctioned off for the number of pups they can produce withut a thought to a companion animal and their feelings (generalizing here)... I highly doubt you would ever make that statement though after seeing one. And the fact pet stores will take a dog back? It's because they go back to their "supplier" and make them pay for the dog or provide a new one. They also don't want an investigation of where their dogs come from as a lot just purchase online without verifying credentials or seeing the actual breeding facilities.

And your comment about better adopters? Agreed about risks of low-cost sources and from Craigslist. But you're generalizing as there are amazing dogs that end up again in rescue groups that are fully vetted including microchips and can be an amazing deal. And we have had a TON of wealthy adopters bring dogs back not because the dog was sick, but because they didnt have as much time or perhaps their dog didnt like the adopted one. I know some lower income folks that have paid 12K+ in vet bills because they would do anything for their family member. Good rescues will work with you and take the dog back and even help you find a better match for your family. There are other alternatives............

Rosie Alexander

Legalizing puppy mills? Are you out of your mind? Those creatures, I mean the humans who do this don't give a shit about the dogs in their they use. It's all about the money. Make them have rules to go by? I don't think so. A criminal is a criminal. Yes, I said it. They are criminals. Anyone who treats animals like that is a criminal.

Debbie bermudez

That is a very greedy reply,always adopt from a shelter


Sorry you had bad experiences at the shelter. Just for you not everyone has bad experiences with shelter animals. All the adoptions I personally know have turned out great. Sometimes it is instant and other times it takes them a while to trust their new environment and people. Patience is key pepper with a lot of positive training.


I volunteer for West Coast Boxer Rescue and most of the dogs we rescue are from shelters in California. Dogs in shelters there have 72 hours before they are euthanized. The shelters in California are high kill, due to the many, many dogs being taken to them from individuals, puppy mills and dogs that have been dumped. Rescues place dogs in foster homes and the foster homes work with the dogs to ensure they will be a productive member of the family. I say productive meaning they will give 110% love unconditionally. Puppies purchased from pet stores feed into the puppy mill problem.


I own three shelter dogs...all three would have been euthanized had I purchased a dog instead of adopting them. Puppy mill puppies, for the majority, are not especially healthy dogs. The parents are kept in deplorable conditions, the dogs are in-bred so much which can cause further health problems, and the only one who profits are the breeders. Shelter dogs make wonderful pets - don't buy while shelter dogs die.


How can you even think this way?! Are you KIDDING ME?! I am not against reputable breeders, but what you're saying makes no sense at all. Puppy mills are by definition bad, there is no making them good! No amount of rules or regulations would change what a puppy mill is, it's inbreeding and over breeding of dogs without giving them the proper socialization, grooming or food that they need to maintain a happy, healthy life. Your pet store dog probably has terrible health history and behavioral problems. And contrary to what you just said, pet stores don't usually take puppies back and will claim no responsibility to the health of a puppy/kitten once it is purchased and leaves the premises. Reputable Breeders on the other hand, require you to give the dog back to them at any time during the dogs life if you are no longer able to care for it. Reputable Breeders will also require puppies to be spayed or neutered by 6 months and show proof of good health and will guarantee their dogs! Pet stores DO NOT do that!
P.S. Shelter dogs are some of the most amazing dogs you would ever meet! You just have to find the dog that is right for you, and not just adopt a dog based on looks. A cute dog or puppy might not always be the right fit! You obviously did not do your research when you adopted to find out more about the dog. And almost every shelter I have ever heard of will take your dog if you decide to surrender it. So you ma'am are just uneducated.


I have read the comments that you have been getting and I do not think any of them really answers what you are trying to say here. I understand that you are concerned about the health and well-being of the pets that you bring in to your home and that this decision is what led you to buy a dog from a pet store instead of a shelter. I also understand that you are addressing the criticism that pet stores have been under because they are typically known for having dogs from puppy mills (which is a term for dogs bred commercially in unsafe, factory-like conditions) and that, from your perspective, you believe that there should be more regulations on these factory-like conditions as opposed to trying to eliminate puppy mills altogether.

However, I feel that in the dog buying process, you may have no been made entirely aware of the numerous options available to you. First, when it comes to rescue dogs, there is a wide variety of rescue organizations. Many no-kill rescue organizations have the luxury of being able to keep their dogs in foster home settings, seeing the behavior of the dogs, and better socializing them before releasing them to new pet parents. If you have been having difficulty getting a dog that matches your family, it might be worth considering a shelter that allows for more of that personalized care and attention.

Additionally, there are two organizations which promote positive breeding practices for purebred dogs (although not mutts or designer mix-breeds). These organization are the AKC and the UKC. AKC has been criticized for registering all animals who can prove they are direct purebreds and for not checking on every breeder in their registry and this is a valid point. A simply AKC registration will not guarantee you a happy healthy dog, whether you buy it from a pet store or otherwise. The UKC has also been criticized for having more flexible breed standards and purebred verification processes. A UKC certification will also not guarantee you a happy healthy dog.

It is the sport of confirmation dog breeding that separates healthy examples from the breed from unhealthy examples. If you are looking for a healthy dog, that exemplifies the breed, I encourage you to make a connection with dog breeders through you local dog shows. This community of dog breeders will be able to connect you with a litter of puppies that will suit your needs. Additionally, these breeders are typically more concerned about the lifelong well-being of your pet. These breeders invite you to visit all of the dog in their breeding program and to look at the place that they are bred, raised and kept. Also they will make sure to investigate you and your lifestyle to make sure that their puppies are the right match for you.

Naturally, you already have your pet store pet, and you love your pet as much as all of the people on this forum love their own dogs. However, based on your concerns, I thought it prudent to outline how positive breeding practices are supported in the dog community and how you or anyone else reading, can take and educated part in that process.

Thanks again for you comment.

Also, this dog stealing racket is really a terrible thing.