Pet Flipping: What it is and why pet parents should be aware



pet flipping

What is pet flipping?  Pet flipping is, basically, the practice whereby someone obtains a dog (or animal) for free or by stealing one and then immediately tries to sell it for a profit.

“Free To Good Home”…… not a good idea

Many pet flippers obtain pets by looking for people who are trying to rehome their pet. They search for online posts (i.e. Craig’s List) where pets are advertised as “Free to good home”. Pet flippers will prey on those people. They contact and/ or meet the person and pretend to be someone they are not. Pet flippers are talented actors. They convince the person that they will provide the animal with a loving and great home – only to turn around and callously sell the pet for a profit. They do this with little to not regard for the pet’s well-being.

You may be thinking you couldn’t be fooled.  But it’s happening all across the country.  Just read this one person’s story who spoke to 11Alive News – Atlanta GA, after she posted a “Free to Good Home” add on Craig’s List.

“Minutes after I posted this, I got flooded with emails. ‘I’ll take him, I’ll take him, I’ll take him’,” Mims said.

She thought she’d found her pet a good home — a mom with kids.

“Once my daughter saw that the other little girls were happy, she felt more comfortable and safe to say, ‘Okay Mom, we can let him go.’ And then I started getting new emails — ‘Be careful, you didn’t ask any money for your dog, there are dog flippers out there. You need to be careful,'” Mims said.

Sure enough, within 24 hours, Munchie (the dog) was for sale for $100. She immediately contacted the woman.

“Called her back later that day, said, ‘Hey listen, this is really not sitting well with me, I want my dog,’ and at the point she started getting belligerent — ‘I didn’t do anything illegal, it’s not illegal, you shouldn’t have gave him to me. He’s mine now. I can do what I want,'” Mims said.

What’s the “Flip?”

Once a pet flipper has obtained an animal, often that pet will be listed for sale on Craigslist.  Craigslist prohibits the selling of animals, so the money that changes hands is called an “adoption fee” and often flippers will claim that they are simply recouping money spent for food or vet care.

Another way flippers make money on an animal is to adopt an animal for free at a shelter or stealing someone’s pet and then flip the pet for a profit.

What If My Dog Goes Missing?

In many states, pets are considered personal property, so stealing a pet, or even keeping a found pet without trying to find the owner is illegal.  If your pet comes up missing it doesn’t necessarily mean your pet has been stolen, but you must cover as many of your bases as you can.  Craigslist has a lost and found section and Craigslist reaches a lot of people.

<Also read – 12 Tips On How To Find Your Lost Pet>

While on Craigslist make sure you check the ads to see if your pet is up for “adoption” or has been simply found by an honest person.  Turn to social media outlets like Facebook. You can put up a page just for your pet, or post pics on your own page and ask others to share.  You can reach a lot of people this way.

You can make up flyers and post within a few mile radius of your home or where your pet was last seen.  Check on other pet finder sites online and notify local animal control and shelters to be on the lookout.

Pet Flipping


What Can You do to Protect your Pet?

If you need to rehome your pet, please do not give your pet away for free. Contact one of your local pet rescue organizations and see how they can assist with finding your pet a new home.

The best way to protect your pet from being stolen is to make sure he or she is never left unattended.     Microchipping your pet is a good way to increase your odds of finding your pet incase they were to get loose.   At the very least, you can go low tech and use a collar with tag that includes your contact information.

The best protection is awareness.  The more you know about how these unscrupulous people work, the better prepared you can be to prevent a loss in the first place, and how to proactively go about finding your pet in the event that he or she is taken.  Knowledge is power; do not be taken unawares.


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WagBrag’s co-founder, Russ Boles, has a deep history in animal rescue and welfare. For the past 12 years, Russ has served in various roles with Atlanta-based animal advocacy organizations focused on rescue, training and education. In addition, Russ led a local rescue volunteer team into New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina, assisting in efforts to rescue and care for stranded animals. This experience changed his life, and animal rescue and advocacy will always be a part of everything he does.