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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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.


No argument to what you say but we are talking about thieves trying to make a quick buck, and stealing an existing pet from a family who loves it! This happened to me 20 yrs ago and we never found her..I was devastated! .I didn't sleep well for 6 months-can hardly talk about it now!


First off, if there was NO market for puppy mill dogs, there would be NO puppy mills and no puppies, and therefore, no suffering puppies. People won't breed dogs if they can't make money selling them. Secondly, most shelters do charge for the dogs they place. They have to, or they would not be able to function and provide all the care needed to nurse many sick dogs back to health or provide minimum basics, like food and water. Just because someone pays more for a dog doesn't mean they care more about the dog then someone who adopts one or pays less. Many dogs who suffer severe abuse were purchased for a lot of money - just ask breed rescue organizations who see these types of horror stories every day. The only way to get rid of animal suffering and cruelty is through animal rights advocacy and education: educate people on what it means to be a dog owner & how to properly care for that life they just vowed to be responsible for for the next 10 to 20 years. Educate people on how to pick out a good dog for their lifestyle and animal handling skills. It's not about which dog is "cutest" or "prettiest". Getting a dog that best matches your lifestyle and abilities leads to fewer owner turn ins and less abuse. Educate people on why they should neuter and spay their pets. Educate people on how to educate lawmakers in their area to author and pass stricter animal breeding and health organizations. Educate kids starting as young as possible to respect life, all forms of it. The list goes on. There are so many ways to help. All you need to do is pick one.

Louise W.

Are you for real?


What a bunch of hogwash.


Legalizing puppy mills will not solve the problem I believe. Even if things are regulated it would be nearly impossible to produce a healthy, well bred puppy in any situation that requires mass production of dogs. The reason puppy mills are still around is because they are capable of producing puppies that people will pay hundreds of dollars for for a low cost. If we start to ban stores from carrying live animals then the puppy millers will have no more income and be forced to shut down.

I can also say from personal experience that people who spend a lot of money on dogs does not mean that they will take care of it once the novelty has worn off. I work and train with dogs and people and I have seen people spend thousands on a dog and couldn't care less if it was gone the next day. Also the amount of purebred rescues out there should be a clear sign that these puppy mills are providing plenty of cheap dogs for people to buy and dispose of as they please.

To those people who want a purebred dog please remember that there are rescues out there that specialize in certain breeds. There is almost a rescue for every breed out there! Please take the time to make your choice wisely and choose you're new family member wisely. If you would really like a puppy or a breed that is hard to find please find a reputable breeder. Never go to a pet store to get your dog. A person that truly loves the dog cares more worried about getting her healthy and happy puppy a good home rather than making a few quick bucks.


I have had my shelter dog Minnie, for ten years. The shelter she came from thinks she was a dog from a breeder, bred too young and turned out into the cold to die. Many shelter dogs are from irresponsible breeders just as pet store dogs are, but by giving your money to a shelter instead of giving $1000 to a pet store, you are not perpetuating their heinous breeding practices. Minnie has been nothing but a perfect companion, enjoying her "retirement" in a loving home. Don't write off shelter dogs because of an unfortunate experience or two- you can just as easily have problems from a bad breeder selling to pet stores.


My parents bought me a puppy from a breeder, a chocolate labrador. He had severe mental issues and a good amount of physical issues brought on by inbreeding (mother & father were siblings). He was given away, thankfully, instead of put down or put in a shelter. So don't pretend that shelter animals are somehow bred badly, they're the abandoned product of breeding.

To say that pet stores are necessary because the puppy mill puppies needs home is ignorance. Yes, the puppy mill puppies will suffer... that is why we need to STOP the flow of cash into the breeders' pockets! If there is no market, they can't afford to keep breeding!


Wow. I don't even begin to know where to start here. I'm just dumbstruck.