Imagine how agonizing it would be to find another home for your precious pet. Picking someone you trust enough to take care of a furry family member isn’t an easy task.
So you go through the whole process, you feel comfortable with the family you chose, and then you find out your pet had been sold to someone else -- someone you don’t even know, and for a profit.
The concept is called “dog flipping” and some are saying it could be on the rise. It’s sort of like flipping a house, but without the renovations. Dog flippers acquire animals for cheap or free and then sell them for a profit, usually $50 or more.
Animal rescuer Sarah Clinton tells WMC-TV that the dogs are sometimes crammed into warehouses or tiny apartments with up to 10 other dogs, which are all sold to the highest bidder.
One couple’s mission to end dog flipping
Amy Cannon says she just didn’t have the financial means to support her dog's surprise litter of nine puppies. So she took to Craigslist and Facebook to find them good homes. The Ohio woman spent hundreds of dollars on shots and vet appointments to give the pups a good start, then started screening potential adopters.
Cannon turned away several seemingly untrustworthy folks. Then she says she met a girl and her cousin who seemed like a good match. When all was said and done, the girls ended up with three of her puppies.
And then about a week later, she saw one of them -- little “Frankie” -- up for sale on Craigslist … for $60. Cannon says she had given the girls Frankie for free. Cannon and her boyfriend later offered to buy Frankie for $70. They showed up at the girl’s home (she was apparently surprised to see them), paid the cash and rescued the dog.
“I don’t think a lot of people in this country have even heard about something like this,” Cannon told HLN. “It’s one of those hush-hush things.”
Some people may argue that if the dog ends up in a good home eventually, what’s the harm? But there’s no guarantee that will happen. Cannon also says she sees a moral issue with the practice, which she believes should be banned.
“I don't think it’s right to be dishonest when you’re dealing with an animal,” she told HLN. “It’s a bucket full of lies, basically.”
How to protect yourself and your pet
If you find yourself in the difficult situation of having to find a new home for your pet, there are some ways to protect yourself and your furry one.
Cannon says to keep on the lookout for sob stories. Some flippers will claim to have lost a pet and are looking for a new animal companion. You might also spot patterns on message boards where you’ll see different people with the same phone number offering dogs for sale.
You should also consider charging adopters a fee, which would deter potential dog flippers.
"It cuts down on their profit and maybe they will overlook that pet and look for some easy money some other way," Clinton told WMC-TV.
And one of your best bets might be to start a relationship with the adopting family.
“Talk to them as much as you can,” says Cannon. “Sometimes you can tell if their intentions aren’t great. But you really don’t know. That’s why we want to get the word out there.”
"Until there’s a law, there’s not a whole lot that you can do," says Cannon. "Just being aware is probably the first step."