Pet flipping: Criminals cash in on stolen cats, dogs

Animal-welfare officials say microchipping one's cat or dog is the best way to prove ownership and deter pet flipping.

You might call it a case of finders keepers, losers weepers.

A new breed of criminal scam being perpetrated on Craigslist has people stealing or claiming dogs or cats that aren't theirs and then putting them up for sale online.

It's called "pet flipping," and authorities in the Indianapolis and Kansas City areas and elsewhere say the scam is on the rise.

Elizabeth Arroyo is among the victims. She told The Indianapolis Star her dog Raiden ran away from home last month. A few days later, she was forwarded a Craigslist ad saying the dog had been found — and was for sale.

“I couldn’t imagine trying to sell a dog when people are out there looking for him,” she said. “They know someone loves him.”

Posing as an interested buyer, she set up a meeting with the woman selling the dog. But instead of going to an ATM to get cash to consummate the deal, she called police.

The seller quickly admitted to finding the dog and then trying to sell him, even when she knew the owners were searching for him, Arroyo told the Star.

Danielle Beck, the operator of website Indy Pet Lost Alert, said Raiden's case was one of three "pet flippings" she dealt with in one week.


In Kansas City, Mike Pfieffer recently found a dog in his neighborhood and posted it on Craigslist. A man contacted him and claimed the dog was his, so Pfieffer handed the animal over. 

The next day, he told KCTV 5, he saw the dog advertised for sale on Craigslist.

"It made me dive in there a little further, put his phone number in there, and he was selling four dogs," Pfieffer said.

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Danielle Reno of Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption told KCTV the pet flipping scam is going on all over the country.

"There are a lot of people that lose their dog during its life, and they rely on the faith of a good person to return their dog to them," Reno said.

Animal-welfare officials say microchipping one's pet is the best way to prove ownership and deter per flipping.

“If they have a microchip, it makes them much more difficult to move to another person,” Dan Shackle, chief administrator at Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, told The Star. "If someone takes your dog, they can take a collar off without a problem."


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