Pet owners across the United States of America are reporting a worrying increase in a trend called Pet Flipping, which sees animals stolen and then sold for profit.
Owners in American cities such as Indianapolis and Kansas City have reported various incidents where their pets that have been stolen have then turned up on Craigslist.
Criminals use the pets as leverage against owners as they look to extort money from them. One particular case featured Elizabeth Arroyo, who was directed to a Craigslist advert, only days after her own pooch had gone missing, that offered to sell a dog that looked like hers for $900.
Arroyo then met with the seller and the dog, who reacted enthusiastically to Arroyo’s presence, indicating that it was her stolen canine. Arroyo then contacted police and lead them back to the seller, who quickly folded due to the officers’ presence.
Discussing this troubling upturn, Ria Brown, of Florida’s Lee County Animal Service, told WBBH, “This isn’t like a television set or a piece of electronic equipment this is something that is probably a member of somebody’s family that you just took.”
Danielle Beck, who operates an Indianapolis based watchdog group named, Indy Lost Pet Alert, which has reunited 2,670 pets with their owners in the area since March 2012, has looked to increase awareness of this phenomenon.
Beck told the Indianapolis Star, “We’re bringing more awareness to it. Most of the owners are pet people and are startling to know what to look for.”
This trend was first reported last year. It saw people adopt pets before selling them, with animal rescuer Sarah Clinton stating at the time, “There are some predatory people out there who will take your dog in, say they are going to give it a good home, and then turn around and sell that dog for $50, $60, a coupe of hundred dollars.”