Beware of 'dog-flipping' pet thieves

In an alarmingly rising trend, robbers are targeting pets that they then resell, with some even winding up in dog-fight rings.

By Jonathan Berr Jul 17, 2013 12:38PM
Pet theft trends (© American Kennel Club)When a family from Monroe, Wash., returned home from vacation in 2011, they were heartbroken to learn that their 3-month-old puppy had run away. Police later discovered that the story was more complicated: The 17-year-old girl who was hired to watch the pooch had stolen it and sold the puppy on Craigslist for $200, according to media reports.

Similar stories on "dog flipping" have been reported elsewhere, such as in Georgia and Indiana, which underscore data from the American Kennel Club (AKC) showing that dog thefts are on the rise, increasing 27.8% between January and May on a year-over-year basis.

The thieves can be bold. Indeed, someone stole three purebred German shepherds valued at $2,500 each in May from a kennel in Hawaii.

AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson, in an email to MSN moneyNOW said the AKC's Companion Animal Recovery National Pet Theft Database shows "pet theft has consistently been on the rise over the past five years, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down." 

These reports should prompt pet owners to take extra precautions such as "microchipping" their furry friends so that their owners' addresses can be determined if their pets get lost or stolen. Without these records, reuniting pets and their owners can be difficult.

Pet theft reports surge in the summertime in places such as New York City as "pet parents" run errands and walk their pets at the same time to take advantage of the nice weather.

Unfortunately, catching the thieves can be difficult.Image: Dog (© Russell Glenister/image100/Corbis)
"Most often dogs are taken from one area and sold far away so there will be no connection," according to A Helping Paw, which operates a shelter in Massachusetts. "Dogs are even being stolen from pet stores and animal shelters."

Thieves are especially interested in purebred and smaller dogs, which are easy to transport, that they can sell for quick cash. According to the AKC, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Labrador retrievers and French bulldogs are popular with thieves. Pit bulls are the most-stolen dogs so far this year.

Some evidence indicates that stolen dogs can wind up being used as "bait" in dog fighting rings. Some are even held for ransom. Sadly, this is a worldwide problem and has been reported in the U.K. and Canada among other places.

Using common sense may also help thwart would-be thieves. The ASPCA encourages pet owners to leave their furry friends at home unless the owners are going to "pet-friendly" businesses and to keep a close eye on their pet when it's off the leash. Also, be suspicious of strangers who say they admire your dog but pepper you with questions about how much it costs and where you live.

Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr.

More on moneyNOW

Jul 17, 2013 1:39PM
If anyone stole our dogs, I would not rest until I had hunted them down and ended their existence.
Jul 17, 2013 2:12PM
Anyone who would take either of my dogs is a DEAD MAN. 
Jul 17, 2013 2:07PM
It probably varies by state, but the punishment for this crime is most likely to lenient.  The people who do this are evil and should be convicted of a felony and do some jail time. 
Jul 17, 2013 5:41PM
There is a special place in hell for pet thieves right next to child molesters.  I have a bullet waiting for anyone who comes and tries to steal my dog.  They would be shot dead on site without even a hesitation.  There should be stiffer penalties for crimes against helpless animals in this country.  Dog fighting should be treated like murder from a legal perspective which is exactly what it is to these dogs. 
Jul 17, 2013 6:22PM
Mess with my little dogs and a fate worse than death awaits you !
Jul 17, 2013 2:49PM
I live 5 miles from Monroe, WA.  This is a sad world we live in to have a pet stolen.  My dogs are only outside with us.  Are only walked by us.  Are with us all weekend.  Go everywhere we can take them with us.  Go to all the fairs with us.  Will only stay with family and friends I know I can fully trust on the off chance that we go somewhere they can't go.
Jul 17, 2013 5:56PM
Anyone who tries to steal my pet Sheltie is dead meat.  I will not bother calling the police. They will not come soon enough if you don't live in the wealthy part of town, anyway.  The would-be thief would not survive the day.  I would tie him or her up and duct tape the mouth shut, put them in a bag, and drop them into the deepest part of the nearest reservoir.
Jul 17, 2013 9:03PM
Stealing someone's pet is akin to kidnapping and real soon we are going to have to go back to the common sense employed by our ancestors.  In 1880 if you stole a horse you were hanged. What didn't happen was endless trials, appeals, probation and expense.  Everyone knew the rules and if you didn't want to hang you didn't steal a horse.  Now that might be extreme, but it seems criminals are becoming bolder and more ruthless, as it seems our  judicial system is not working to instill fear of consequences in would be criminals.  That coupled with the problem of parents not doing their job in teaching right and wrong can only lead to more and more criminal acts.  . 
Jul 17, 2013 4:06PM
even worse:  I had a landlord who, unknown to me, had a serious mental health issue.  He let himself into my apartment and poisoned my beloved st Bernard.  I know he did it because he admitted it to me, but there was no evidence to prosecute him  I moved.  My Saint was the best dog and so loved . . .  I guess there are sickos where you least expect them.
Jul 17, 2013 8:59PM

I want someone to make a tiny GPS tracking chip that I can put into all of my pets so I can get online or on my phone and see where they are in the world.  If they can do that for iPads, why can't they do it for pets too?   An iPad can be replaced, a pet can't.


I had my five dogs stolen once by my ex, who had someone come take them when he knew I wouldn't be home (we were both in court for the divorce, so he had an alibi).  Of course since I had no proof or witnesses of any kind, and the ex would not admit to anything,  there was nothing law enforcement could do.   I was without my dogs for over 6 months.  One day, after things were finalized, a truck backed partially down my drive, dumped them out and then took off.  Three of my dogs had been returned and looked like they had been locked in a filthy kennel without food the entire time.  I can only assume the other two died.  I was in such shock, horror at their emaciated bodies, disbelief and too far from the house to get to my car in time to chase the man down (lucky for that SOB), but I'll never forget the sadness and guilt I felt that my dogs had to suffer because someone wanted to get back at me through them.  This was after I had been civil the entire time.  So pet stealing does happen and the cowards don't do it when you are standing right there, they do it like the cockroaches that they are and are very hard to catch. I hope Karma gets all of them good before they go to a special place in hell for people with no soul.

Jul 17, 2013 2:16PM
The advice to  "keep a close eye on your pet when off the leash" is just pure common sense. I guess the ASPCA rightfully believes there are a lot of people out there that do not understand that. Better yet, how about not letting your dog get off the leash altogether! Any responsible dog owner would always keep their dog on a leash unless at a leash free enclosed dog park or your own yard. Always have a microchip also! It's just sane common sense advice.
Jul 17, 2013 4:40PM
How awful. I hope there is prison time for this crime.
Jul 17, 2013 4:51PM
my dog is a mutt, one ear up one ear down . the only papers he came with was the washington post and the new york times . if someone stole him he would be returned within the hour along with a large ransom for me to take him back . and that,s the way i like it .
Jul 17, 2013 8:37PM
I agree with Market Vet. If anyone tries to kidnap my Pomeraniens, I will hunt them down Nd do inspeakable things to them.  They are our furry children.
Jul 17, 2013 2:53PM
We have two and both are chipped my sister and I don't let them out of our sight have panic attacks when left with an unknown groomer, our groomer comes to the house.  Sounds silly but they travel with us and at most high end hotels you can get a sitter we won't leave them alone or caged in any hotel.  One of them has figured out how to unzip his cage and the other can unlatch so can't do the latch kind.  Like all of you they are important members of the family and are going to stay that way.
Jul 17, 2013 4:06PM
Horse theft is pretty bad, too, and it's only going to get worse once slaughter is legalized. In the area I live in, it happens most often at night, or if you live in a remote area and you're not home. If you have a wire fence, they clip the wires. We have a sturdy wood fence and keep the gates locked at all times.
Jul 17, 2013 8:55PM
If anyone even came close enough to me to do that, I would kill them for sure!
Jul 17, 2013 9:13PM
I would seriously beat the p!ss out of someone that stole my dog ... they better pray the police get to them first because it would not be pretty if I did ... people are such losers!
Jul 17, 2013 5:51PM
I've had my pets stolen right out of my yard and kennel during the middle of the day  none of these pets we're running loose. I don't  know what to say about some one that would come on to some body's property and take their secured pet. I'm can't think of any thing nice or what I might have done had I caught them.
Jul 17, 2013 10:22PM
My ex took my two beloved cats, "Boots" and "Snuggles," from me out of pure evil and spite. I truly believe there's a special place in hell for people that exploit precious animals and pets for financial gain or out of sheer malevolence and vindictiveness. 
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