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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Bridgette, I think you have good intentions but please try to really think about this... by buying a pet you are supporting puppy mills, which make dogs suffer. You are concerned about what will happen with the puppies bred from the puppy mills but by adopting a pet instead of buying one, you are ultimately shutting down the puppy mills by decreasing consumer demand!! Any company must respond to consumer demand.. if there is no market for their "product" then they will stop producing them! Of course there's always a black market for anything really but I am still adamant that adoption is the way to go! I agree with you that no pet should be available for free because then they could "flip" them but that is why shelters come with adoption fees! The fee for a dog is usually around $200-300 dollars and includes neutering/spaying to help fight dog/cat homelessness and vaccinations. I think this fee is reasonable yet high enough to deter people who are only interested in the animals to "flip" them. I also read something a while ago about people on sites like kijiji or craigs list who put up ads looking to rehome their cat/dog. These people should still ask for a small fee to prevent pet "flipping" as well.
BOTTOM LINE: DOGS/CATS ARE NOT DISPOSABLE AND ARE NOT "PRODUCTS"! THEY DESERVE TO BE TREATED WITH LOVE AND RESPECT. I hope that if you are reading this and you are looking for a dog/cat as an addition to your family that you will only get one if you are ready for the responsibility... it is not fair to just "dump" an animal because you get bored of it or because you were not prepared for the work! Imagine if your parents did this to you when you were a kid! Imagine how sad/confused/scared you would be!! Why do this to an animal?!


I understand your point, Bridgette. We adopted a dog years ago from a local Rottweiler rescue group. The dog had been on the streets for the first six months of its life, but the we were told that he'd done very well on all behavior tests, and was safe to bring into our home.
Just a few weeks later, the dog bit my sister. Her wounds weren't terrible, and we thought it might just be a slight aggression issue that could be worked out, with training.
After several weeks of training, the dog bit my mother. This time, is was so bad, she had to have surgery on her hand.
We realized we couldn't keep him, and tried very hard to find somewhere to place him, only to find that no one would take a known "biter". We ended up putting the poor animal down.

Please know that I think puppy mills are utterly evil, and should be put out of business. Some "rescue" groups are also irresponsible, and should also be put out of business.

Please don't be insulted by some of the self-righteous (but clueless) comments.


I find it difficult to believe the rescue from whom you adopted your rottie wouldn't take him back and find a better parent for him


I agree Kelly... I've worked with 3 different rescue groups as volunteers. ALL of them have a section in their adoption policy form that says that if you don't want the dog anymore, please return the dog back to them and not to put the dog in a shelter or give them away.


Thank you for confirming Rose! Also to the person above who calls us self-righteous- that's usually the only argument someone with no argument ends up making, so go right ahead...


So so many horrible reasons to buy from a pet store, I don't know where to begin. Rationalize all you want, but when the demand goes out, so will puppy mills. Regulating won't solve anything - there are always ways around the law. Conscientious, caring human beings can make a difference by having pets spayed & neutered & encouraging others to do the same, & help reduce the homeless pet population by adoption. Do your homework: go to several shelters, ask around to see which ones people think are most reputable, see if you can arrange a home visit, & find out if the shelter offers any kind of short term health coverage in case of illness (many do). Finally, if what you're really after is a "breed" & not a family member, you shouldn't have a pet at all.


Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the horrible health problems & genetic diseases that can come from interbreeding at these places. Also, behavior problems from abuse & poor living conditions. Geez, you really are poorly informed.


I'm sorry but you are very wrong. I am in school for Animal Science and one of my teachers worked for DEM and other organizations that dealt with animal abuse cases, animal hoarding, and of course puppy mills. They get away with it because as soon as there is a case built up against them they change their name, move their operation to a new location, and avoid the legal system. And they get away with this. The ONLY way to stop them, is to make their business fail- which means if customers refuse to buy from stores that sell puppy mill puppies, it affects that pet store, which in turn affects the puppy mills. It's going to take a little effort at a time to make a real impact, but it IS happening. Here in Rhode Island protestors finally won after a few rallies against Rumford Pet Center. They now do not buy or sell puppy mill puppies.

If you want a purebred you do NOT go through a store still, you find a legitimate, licensed breeder and check into them. A true breeder will never have more than 3 breeds at one time, will possess an FDA license to breed, and will be able to provide you will certifications on the breed and also veterinary care information for both the mom and pups.

And all we can do for the puppy mill pups is donate to ASPCA and send out tons of good energy for them to be rescued by the ASPCA- and they DO get rescued, all the time.


Legalizing the puppy mills? No way! they should be shut down!! Instead of getting a dog from pet stores, why not get a dog from a legit breeder? Shelters also have a lot of puppies. Do your research to find the right puppy from a right place instead of supporting puppy mills. This is crazy!!!


Bridgette, Adopt DON'T Shop! If you're not part of the solution you are part of the problem.