Pet lovers beware of the disturbing criminal trend called “pet flipping”. This is when a person steals a pet or takes ownership of a lost pet, and then sells the animal. Pets are typically sold on the Internet to make a quick profit. The American Kennel Club (AKC) reports a rise in pet thefts with a 27.8% increase between January and May this year, compared to 2012.
Pet flippers most commonly target purebred dogs because they can fetch a high price, but even mixed breed dogs are at risk. Dogs are swiped from porches, fenced in back yards, dog parks, and cars. Some pet scams involve a person advertising as a pet sitter or trainer, who then disappears with your pet. Other scams involve someone who steals a pet and then responds to the lost pet ad, making money on rewards.
Top 7 Tips to Prevent Pet Flipping
- Don’t leave your pet unattended. Avoid leaving your pet unattended, even in your own backyard. Don’t leave your pet outside of stores or coffee shops. Tying your dog’s leash up while you run that quick errand can give a thief the few minutes he needs to snatch your pet while you step away. Keep a watchful eye on your dog when visiting dog parks.
- Get your pet micro chipped. A microchip is one of the best tools to reunite lost pets and serves as legal proof of ownership. Be sure to keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
- Use GPS collars. A GPS collar allows you to track your dog’s movement minute by minute. These units can help you find your pet quickly if lost, but are of little use if a pet flipper removes the collar. I use the Tagg Pet Tracker (http://www.pettracker.com/) for my dog and like that I can locate him to a precise location with my smart phone.
- Get your pet spayed or neutered. Dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered are especially prized targets to thieves since they are perceived as a money-making opportunity. Spaying and neutering also decreases the desire to stray and is good for your pet’s health.
- Research pet services carefully. Before signing on for pet sitting or dog trainer services, research the business person’s reputation with the Better Business Bureau. Ask your veterinarian for a referral to a reputable pet professional. Request references before using a new pet service.
- Buyer beware. Be cautious when buying a pet online and only use reputable breeders. Check out a breeders standing with the AKC and breed clubs. Be wary of individuals that lack documentation of breeding or veterinary health care records.
- Sign up for doggie facial recognition apps. High-tech facial recognition technology is now available to identify and track down lost pets with services like Finding Rover. Use your IPhone to download the app at http://findingrover.com/. Upload your pet’s photo in their database, and promptly notify Finding Rover if your pet is ever lost.
Pet flipping is so heinous because it exploits the cherished relationship between family and a beloved pet. Share this information with fellow pet lovers to spread awareness and halt this criminal trend.