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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You adopt a dog, take care of it instead of taking it back because it's sick. I understand returning because it doesn't get along with another pet or bites the kids. but not illness. As for legalizing puppy mills, that's insane. The world doesn't need more puppies and really, do you think they could be regulated? Why would you want animals to suffer. Shows what kind of pet store owner you are, you don't mind making a buck off animals suffering. I do believe they call that GREED! People don't want to return their new pet. Most are attached right away. Back in the 80's I bought a pet store dog. You know cute puppy in the window. Paid a lot of money. With training he was one of the best dogs I had. Lived 17 years. Years later I adopted a 2 year old dog from a shelter. She was right up there with the other dog, I didn't have to pay to have her trained, she already was! And she only cost 60 dollars. Lived 15 years. Now I have 2 dogs from a back yard breeder. Her place wasn't as bad as the ones you see on tv, but still I was glad when she finally gave it up. We don't need more puppies...I do agree on "free" dogs. People will usually take them on a whim. I'm guilty of that. Sometimes they work out, sometimes not. Then you have to find them a good home. And yes many abusers snatch them up, but many abuse dogs they bought. An abuser is an abuser, no matter the cost...Find other things to sell in your store, just not puppy mill dogs!

Concerned cats/...

I hope this is a troll or you are running a puppy mill yourself. Why are shelter dogs inferior to puppy mill dogs? Dogs from shelter have a very heterogeneous background. No one can really guarantee their breeds. All they need is love, care and proper training. Just like human, they can also get sick. I adopted one dog and three cats from three different shelters. They all have their own unique personalities, and I love them all.


I really don't understand how you can say "I took him back to be treated and was told he had some illness and had to be put to sleep never to return home." If that was your son would you really be okay with "No idea what is going on but lets euthanize him"??? No. Shelter pets need somebody who loves them and has patience, which you clearly don't have for animals.


I will ONLY adopt animals from shelters or rescue groups. I will not even shop at stores where dogs and cats are sold for profit when so many are killed every year because they are unwanted. To continue breeding animals and killing them off like they are extra entities without feeling is inhumane. The monsters are in the profit business: the hearts are found at the shelters. You want true love, adopt a shelter pet!


Your story doesn't make sense. As an "owner of a pet store" you should know that "puppy mills" are usually legal enterprises and managed by the USDA. There is a large market of purebred and designer dogs...mostly by the uneducated public. The fact is the USDA does not have enough inspectors and is unable to enforce the health and safety regulations already in place. It is up to each county/state government to ensure all breeders within it's border follow specific guidelines. But those that are intent on making money by the sale of pets are often unethical, and proper care of those pets cut into the profit margin.
I have been involved in rescue for over 30 years, and it sounds like your experience with rescued/adopted pets comes from more a lack of knowledge and discretion of choice with the pets you rescued. Many dogs enter the shelter healthy, and even despite rigorous cleaning and sanitary practices, many will develop illnesses like kennel cough or parvo. I would dare to say the same is true of pet store, puppy mill dogs, and backyard breeders.
The only people who should breed dogs are professionals, whose sole intent is to better the breed by careful genetic screening and selection of mates. A true breeder NEVER makes money from their litters because of the cost of proper care and the limited number of litters. The same applies to true rescues, the cost of care for all animals often exceeds the amount of adoption fees, their only goal is to save many worthy lives.


Your argument is beyond flawed. Money shouldn't be the factor of whether an individual will take better care of a pet. It's like saying rich people take care of their kids than poor families. Adoption Centers exist to provide animals with an opportunity to find a better home. 5 years ago today I adopted my dog from a No-Kill Facility. He already had a microchip, was house trained, and adaptable. The only problem was that his owner just let him go! Someone found this little Shih Tzu abandoned in the woods with his coat matted! The rationale thing this individual did was take him to the nearest shelter. One week later I walked into that shelter with hopes to provide some volunteer hours, not knowing I would come back home with a dog. My love and dedication to my wonderful little boy was knowing that he and I were given the opportunity to provide each other with love and affection when we both needed it. I don't know whether buying a dog at a pet store is better or worse than adopting a pet from a shelter, but all I know is you can't provide assumptions when your reasons aren't valid. The intention of adopting a pet is knowing you are giving him or her a second chance to live. Whether that dog or cat has health issues shouldn't be a determining factor is to why shelters are bad. What if you adopted a child and he or she came with health concerns years later, would you return the child????? Shame on you for your ignorance.


You have no idea what buying a puppy is all about. I have a friend who purchased a Chi from a backyard puppy breeder. They paid $600 for the pup. They now have over $6000.00 invested in medical bills. Can't even give him anesthesia to get him neutered because it will kill him. Most breeders and puppy mills are only anxious to make $$$$. We need to stop all this pet store selling of puppies because most of them come from puppy mills. Go to your local humane society and adopt if you don't want to purchase from a pound. You will pay some money but the dogs are vetted, spayed/neutered and medical issues are usually all taken care of. Please do some research on those puppies purchased at pet stores. The parents to your pups suffer at the hands of these people. Puppy mills need to be banned! Adopt a shelter pet, you will find your best friend there! Pet stores have gone through law suits for selling puppies that die or puppies people have had to put thousands of dollars into. Please educate yourself on this issue!


I have loved every single SPCA adoption I have ever had...and my two most current small rescue dogs. They, in return, have given us years of love and fun stories. Part of the joy is taking a pup with 'problems' and working it out! Relationships are WORK! The relationship between man and animal is no different! It just depends on the amount of work you are willing to put in, and the patience and time you are willing to wait for that return of good behavior and love...for us it has been more than worth it!


I have 2 rescues and they are very much cared for and loved. How dare you say people don't take are of a rescue dog more than a pet store bought puppy, my babies are spoiled and wouldn't have it any other way. I will always go to a shelter for an animal to be a member of my family. You are the reason there are puppy mills.


I have 2 rescues and they are very much cared for and loved. How dare you say people don't take are of a rescue dog more than a pet store bought puppy, my babies are spoiled and wouldn't have it any other way. I will always go to a shelter for an animal to be a member of my family. You are the reason there are puppy mills.