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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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.


If your son is 22 and this happened when he was a child, well, most shelters have come a long way in just the past 5-10 years. How we, as a society, view and respect the lives of our pets has changed too.


The dog that you took back to the shelter, do you know what the illness was? Hopefully this shelter has progressed in attending to sick animals before they are adopted out. I had adopted a kitten that was spayed at a shelter which used a vendor vet service for the spaying. It was done so poorly that she split open. The vet at the shelter re-did it and did a great job! If she had anything differently that was wrong I would have taken her to a private vet. It would not surprise me if the dog was treatable and that the shelter did not want to treat the dog as it may have been expensive or they didn't know what they were doing.

Normally adopted pets have adoption fees which can be similar to purchasing a pet. I agree that a person should be able to afford a pet and it concerns me when people or shelters 'give away' or only charge a nominal fee for adopting a pet. People should be able to afford a pet right off the bat. And people do value money, most people. I would not want to see pets sold but adopted (with fee) from a pet store.

So in the US we kill about 4 Million cats and dogs each year but 17 Million are sold, imported, etc. to people here. That is outrageous! People who do not have respect for dogs, cats and do not take care of them should not be allowed to care take for one. So a person who has committed a cruel act to a pet should no longer have pet privileges ever. Or a person who turns in their 16 year old dog because they do not want vet bills should not be able to adopt another dog and so forth.

They differentiate between puppy mills and decent breeders, which is why animal welfare advocates want to get rid of the puppy mills. Certainly, we should limit the ability to breed pets period, and any breeding should be regulated more. We should not be killing up to 4M pets per year when people are adopting over that amount. They need to limit the breeding and encourage adoption. There should be no unwanted pets in the US.

I cannot believe the amount of cruelty to pets in this country. A recent study suggested about 50 percent of pets are treated cruelly in the US. People do not have to have a pet. Of that 50 percent of households who torture or mutilate or starve or ignore their pet, they should not have one, ever. Pets should be treated as valuable and likely and sadly the only way that they will be is if there is a shortage of them, instead of an abundance.