CLEVELAND, Ohio — A warning is being issued for people putting pets and puppies up for adoption.
A new trend, which animal activists call “disturbing,” is sweeping the internet.
It’s called “dog flipping.”
People scour the internet or even shelters and bring home purebred or desirable puppies and then re-sell them for a profit.
Some of the dogs are shipped to other countries on planes, while others land in puppy mills, where they are used as breeders.
Dr. Greg Cunningham from Detroit Dover Animal Hospital in Westlake says, “That’s part of the reason a lot of shelters spay and neuter before they’re allowed to leave.”
Still, other dogs face an even more distressing fate. Often small or timid dogs are flipped and sold to be used as bait in dog fighting rings.
“It’s very upsetting,” said Amy Cannon.
She learned about dog flippers the hard way after two of her dogs that weren’t supposed to be able to get pregnant, suddenly mated.
Cannon took the puppies to a veterinarian and got them their shots and then sold them on Craigslist for a very low price.
She thought she did everything right, and even sold two of the pups to a seemingly loving couple.
“(The buyer) was like, ‘We live with our family and have land,’ and I felt really good about it,” said Cannon.
The couple seemed so sincere she even gave them a third puppy named “Frankie” for free.
“So he could live with his brother and sister … how fun will that be,” Cannon recalled.
But that joy turned to anger when a short time later the puppies turned up on Craigslist being sold for a higher price.
“They didn’t even try to disguise it,” said Cannon. “They listed him with his same name and everything.”
Cannon and her boyfriend devised a sting operation and got Frankie back, but she has no idea what happened to the other two puppies.
“It makes me sick,” said Cannon.
She turned that rage into action and started “The Citizens Against Flipping Dogs” on Facebook.
Cannon is also working on getting legislation passed that would make dog flipping illegal, and is calling it “Frankie’s Law.”
The practice has actually been occurring for a while.
Dr. Cunningham says “dog brokers” have been doing the same thing for at least five to six years.
Not only is the flipping upsetting to the original owner, it can also be bad for the puppy.
“Absolutely, I think it’s got to be very traumatic to them,” said Dr. Cunningham.
He says many dogs can recover if they end up in a loving household, but some could be injured or develop other illnesses.
“They’re picking up how many dogs and taking them to who knows where,” said Dr. Cunningham.
Cannon suggests people exercise extreme caution when buying or selling an animal.
She says research potential clients on the internet. Look at how many times their name and phone number turn up on the web. Dog flippers tend to be on many websites with multiple dogs.
Watch out for fake rescue organizations. Cannon says people will claim they are helping dogs when they are really flippers.
Listen carefully and be cautious trusting a sob or slick story.
And finally, be wary of anyone attempting to purchase or take more than one animal.
A Painesville woman thinks she had dog flippers contacting her.
Ellen Dvorek breeds Golden-Doodles but sells them for far less than what they are worth on the internet.
“I’m not trying to get wealthy, you know, just trying to breed really cool dogs for families,” said Dvorek.
But she started getting strange emails after posting her puppies on the internet.
Dog flippers aren’t anxious to discuss their business, but some have defended their actions on blogs saying they have every right to earn a living.
(our sister station WJW-TV in Cleveland contributed this report)