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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Yes lets legalize puppy mills and regulate them so we can continue to breed more dogs while 15 million pets get euthanized each year in shelters because they don't get adopted. If you buy a dog or breed a dog you are just ignorant, plain and simple. When you get your new purchased puppy take comfort in knowing 1 more dog is getting euthanized because 1 more home is gone. Great idea.


Almost every dog from a pet store comes from a puppy mill. Best bet unless you have to have a purebred is to rescue from a shelter. Second best is to go to the AKC website and find a reputable breeder under the breed you are looking for. Breeders are most interested in finding the right fit for their puppies so you may have to wait a bit, but don't ever buy from a pet store.


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.