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BBB Tip of the Week: Pet flipping

Sun., Sept. 1, 2013

Criminals are preying on pets to make quick cash in an activity called pet flipping. Dogs are the most often flipped pets, with pure breeds popular due to high cash value.

Pet flippers get a hold of pets in several ways. They may find a missing pet, answer an ad for a found pet pretending to be the owner or even steal the pet from the owner’s yard.

Because of the possibility of theft, pet owners are urged not to leave dogs or other pets unattended in the yard. Also an implanted microchip, done at your veterinarian’s office, is the best way to confirm the identity and owner of a pet.

If you have lost your pet or it has been stolen, you are encouraged to scour the local pet ads. If you do find your pet for sale by someone else, don’t hesitate to get the police involved.

Many pet flippers place pet ads on Craigslist or other local online sites. The pet flipper will usually have a convincing story for why the pet needs a new home, such as moving to a no-pet apartment or overseas, or a family member who has developed severe allergies.

If you are looking to purchase a dog or pet and would like to avoid dealing with pet crooks, then the BBB offers the following tips:

• Before meeting the pet and owner, ask for pictures of both together.

• Ask to visit the pet and seller to see how they interact.

• Ask if the pet has been spayed or neutered, and cross-reference with the veterinary records.

• Before buying, ask to see all paperwork related to the pet, including kennel club registration (breeding paperwork), veterinary bills and insurance information.

• Before buying, insist on a veterinary examination and microchip scan.

• When buying, insist on an official bill of sale from the seller. Make sure all terms of the sale are in writing.

Because no regulations, or very few, for online pet sales exist, the safest way to purchase a pet is through a legitimate breeder, a pet store or a registered animal shelter.

Also, dog owners should beware of “board and train” scams, in which the “trainer” steals your dog and your money. Because dog training also trains the owner, insist that you and your dog are trained together.

For more tips, visit the BBB online at

Erin T. Dodge, BBB Editor

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