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“Pet Flipping” is not a new pet trick; it is the criminal act of stealing a pet and then selling it as a “rescue” to unsuspecting purchasers. (Another variation occurs when a pet has been found and is held at an animal shelter or has been advertised as “found” and the “pet flipper” poses as the pet’s owner only to turn around and sell the pet to someone else.)

Even worse, the thieves are sometimes “rescues” themselves, as recently reported in Georgia where a Great Danes’ owner fell victim to pet flipping by a local rescue who allegedly took her dog and sold him as an “abused and rescued dog” to another family. Fortunately, when the new owners were told about the theft, they returned the dog to his owner.

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And notably, a Judge “issued a theft warrant against the rescue owner” who had hidden information about the stolen pet when his owner called inquiring about his whereabouts.

According to WTOC, “the American Kennel Club said reselling, called pet flipping, has grown 800 percent since 2008,” and a 31% increase has been reported by the AKC since 2012.

The AKC offers excellent advice to prevent the theft of your pet, summarized here: 

  • “Don’t let your dog off-leash”
  • “Don’t leave your dog unattended in your yard”
  • “Be cautious with information about your dog” to inquiring strangers
  • “Never leave your dog in an unattended car, even if it’s locked”
  • “Don’t tie your dog outside a store”
  • “Protect your dog with microchip identification”
  • “Immediately report to the police/animal control the theft of your dog”
  • “If your dog has a microchip, ask to have that unique serial number, along with the dog’s description, posted in the ‘stolen article’ category on the National Crime Information Center”
  • “Canvass the neighborhood”
  • Have pictures of your pet available for use on fliers to distribute locally
  • “Contact the media”

As the pet rescue industry continues to expand, pets and their owners may continue to be victimized by thieves looking to make money by flipping pets.

The Animal Welfare Act was first passed in 1966, in large part, as described by the Congressional Research Service “to prevent pets from being stolen for sale to research laboratories.”

Now, almost 50 years later, it is sad to see criminals abuse the increasingly popular act of “animal rescue” to enrich themselves.