The New Crime “Pet Flipping”

April 14th, 2015

“To err is human, to forgive, canine.” – anonymous

Pet Flipping.  It sounds like a cute circus trick, dogs jumping in the air and turning somersaults.  But it’s no laughing matter.  The crime of stealing a dog, then selling it or holding it ransom is on the rise.  The trend has increased steadily over the past few years.  Just from January through March of 2014, the incidence of pet flipping rose over 27%!  Many stories are published about this crime.  In some cases, thieves will steal a pet, then contact the owner and demand a ransom for the pet’s return.  In other instances, pets are stolen and put up for sale, usually on Craig’s List, with the thief acting as the owner or breeder.  Either way it’s a crime and a heartbreaking occurrence for the owner.

Breeds that are most commonly stolen are Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Maltese, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Labradoodles, Pit Bulls, German Shepherds and Labradors.  I makes sense that the smaller dogs are among the most likely to be “picked up” literally.  It is an easy grab and a quick get-away and most of these little dogs are very approachable.  Pit Bulls and German Shepherds, while also a high-risk breed for thievery, can be intimidating to approach and difficult to get away with quickly.  While Labradors, due to their affable nature, will pretty much go with anyone.

There are precautions you can take to reduce the chances of you and your dog being a victim of Pet Flippers and Thieves.  1.  Never leave your dog unattended.  This doesn’t mean you have to have your pet attached to you every minute of the day.  But you should not leave them in your yard if no one is home and especially if your yard is not fenced.  Nor should you leave your pet alone in your car, even if your are just going to be gone for a few minutes to run errands.  2.  Be sure your pet is microchipped.  This will help you get your pet back if it is stolen.  Once reported, police and local veterinarians and shelters can be on the watch for your pet and scan any animal that is presented fitting its description.  A unique microchip registered in your name is also an indisputable way to prove that pet is yours.  3. Know which breeds are more susceptible to being stolen.  4. Be prepared with phone numbers and websites of the police, local veterinarians, animal control and shelters.  If your dog goes missing, contact them immediately.  This will save time and increase the odds of you getting your dog back.  5.  Get references for dog-sitters before you hire them.  6.  If adopting or buying a pet, do so from a reputable source, breeder or shelter.  7. If you have pets to adopt out, check out the potential new owners before completing the deal.  Get references from their veterinarian and do a home visit before releasing any dog to a prospective owner.  8.  If your dog is stolen, monitor Craig’s list and other advertising sites to see if an ad turns up for a pet matching its description.

Vigilance and common sense are the weapons against this offense.  You don’t have to be paranoid, just careful.

Until next time keep your tail in the air and your nose in the breeze!