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How to spot a dog flipper and save your pup from becoming a victim

In order to keep your pet safe from dog flipping you can make sure they're microchipped, and try your best not to leave them unattended - even in your backyard. ( Photo/Alyssa Kleven)

You’ve probably heard of house flipping:

House flipping: Flipping is a term used primarily in the United States to describe purchasing a revenue-generating asset and quickly reselling (or “flipping”) it for profit. Though flipping can apply to any asset, the term is most often applied to real estate.

But have you heard of dog flipping?

When someone steals or dog-naps a dog and then sells it, on Craigslist for example, to make a profit – that’s dog flipping.

It’s a problem that’s growing in the Northwest, and there are some precautions you can take to make sure you’re not a victim of a scam.

It happened in Monroe last year, when a teenage girl allegedly sold a 3-month-old puppy over Craigslist for $250. She was supposed to be puppy-sitting while the dog’s owner was out of town. Fortunately, that story had a happy ending and the puppy was returned to her owner.

Before it’s too late, here’s how you can spot the signs, and protect your dog from becoming a victim of dog flipping:

Ask to come over and see the pet.
You should do this anyway, Seattle DogSpot’s Robert Pregulman told It’s Raining Cats & Dogs on KIRO Radio, but seeing how a dog interacts with an owner is important. They may not have had the dog for very long and it may seem particularly stand-offish or afraid.

Ask to see photos of the dog as a puppy.
If the person selling the dog owned the dog, they will probably have a cache of photos of their adorable pooch.

Tell the prospective seller you’d like to take the dog to the vet and get them scanned for a microchip.
The IRCAD crew agrees that a reliable, or aboveboard person that’s trying to sell a dog on Craigslist won’t have a problem with this request. If the person has stolen the dog, they won’t like the idea, and that will raise one of the biggest red flags. If the dog has a microchip, the vet will find it.

Ask for veterinary records.
If you’re adopting a dog from someone who has owned the pet for some time, they should have records of vet visits.

Be sure to Microchip your pet.
Microchipping your pet means that if they fall into the hands of someone hoping to dog flip them, they will be more easily returned to you.

Don’t leave your dog unattended.
Dogs have been reported stolen when tied up on a bike rack outside of a bar, near a grocery store when an owner is running errands – and the scariest, from your own backyard. If you can ever help it, don’t leave your dog outside by herself.

If you think you’ve found someone that’s trying to flip a dog, you can check with shelters and the Humane Society in your community for updated lists on lost pets. If someone’s dog has been stolen, they’re probably looking for it. Many local vets will keep updated lists of lost pets on their sites too, and you can use these resources to help reunite pets with their dog-moms and dog-dads.

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