It’s the long, drawn-out 4th of July week (seems to last two ungodly weeks anymore), so it is the perfect time to post this blog. Currently, with dogs running scared from what seems to be an endless supply of fireworks, this is prime time for dog flippers to kick into gear and “make them some money.” If your pure-bred dog is currently out running loose, you have very good reason to worry. Be vigilant in searching for your dog, do everything you can to get it back. Don’t ever assume it will find its way back home.
Rescuers and shelter staff all know the reality that I’m about to share. We’ve preached it so often that people think we’re nuts. I’m here to set you straight on that in one blog entry. “Maybe people just don’t know?” If that’s the case, then you can’t unknow what you’re about to read/view. So please share this with a friend/co-worker/family member/neighbor that thinks their dog running loose is perfectly fine. Or, share it with pet owners that live in or around areas of town where crime typically occurs, or those living on property that’s easily accessible to the highway (for a quick getaway) so they can be aware. These people watch every detail of your life if they want to steal your dog, they even know your routine of when you let your dogs out so they can reach over the fence and grab it.
What is a “dog flipper” (or “cat flipper”)?
Ah, the mighty scumbag/trash that we like to call “dog flippers.” It’s a special kind of human being. These are people that take free dogs (or cats) off social media or steal them out of yards and sell them to absolutely anyone for any kind of profit. Now, I know it’s unfair to stereotype, however…like my high school Psychology teacher stated, stereotypes exist because often they’re true (not 100% of the time, but most of the time). I can tell a lot by a social media profile, or how they comment on a thread, which alerts me whether someone is a true pet owner, or a dog flipper. The typical comment a dog flipper makes on a thread about a dog being rehomed is “how much?” A true pet owner would say something like, “awww, so cute! I’ve always wanted a [fill in breed/mix here]! Is it still available?” Or “is it good with kids/cats/other dogs/etc.?” The phrase “how much” is cold, kind of like the dog flipper’s soul. I’ve seen them write it on shelter dog photos (where actual pet owners would write, “what is your adoption fee? What are your hours?”) If you don’t believe me, sit back and watch. When you see someone type “how much?”, then go look at their profile and see how many “dogs for sale in such-n-such county” or yard sale pages of which they are members. If not members of any social media groups, then Craig’s List is the best way to hide their activity as seen in this story. I could go on and on with Craig’s List horror stories that I’ve experience, but this blog is already too long.
There are two types of dog flippers.
TYPE 1: The Cold-Blooded Dog Flipper
There is a sub-level, or “underbelly” as I call it, to our culture that most people have no clue exists. The common American goes to work, returns home, makes dinner for their family, runs the kids to practice or a game, comes home and goes to bed. While you’re out doing your every day routine, there is some seriously sick stuff going on around you that you would not believe. First responders like police, EMS, firefighters, Animal Control Officers (ACO), and those in the field of social work are keenly aware of this lower level of humanity. (All would agree that none of these people should have pets, let alone children.) Many ACOs will tell you the horrors of what humans can do to animals because animals are considered property. Every ACO I meet, I tell them they have to write a book, people wouldn’t believe what they have to endure. Hollywood couldn’t make this stuff up, even the most creative mind can’t imagine anything this sick and twisted. (This is the part where I push “free vasectomies and tubal ligations for anyone that wants one. Send me the bill.”)
Simply put, if this type of person can grab your little mini Aussiedoodle and sell it online for $2,000 “without papers” because “they are moving and can’t keep it” (total lie), they are going to do it without a moment’s hesitation. This type of person has zero moral compass. It has nothing to do with any specific demographic – it has everything to do with how much evil a human body can hold. Some people are just brimming with it.
This segment of our society is where the devil dwells. Corrupt, lazy, selfish people who hand down their wickedness to their children who grow up to do the exact same thing, generation after generation. I understand “it takes all kinds,” but these are people in our society that are as useless as an ashtray on a motorcycle – they don’t contribute anything but destruction and greed, and ultimately make money off of stealing your pet, or buying your pet for $50 and selling it for $150. Drug addictions often add fuel to the fire of their efforts. You’d be surprised to know that these are people that went to school with you. Or, they’re somewhere in your family tree. Boy, can they hide it.
You can count on the fact that these people exist. It’s all over the rescue feeds on social media. Here is a screen shot of one that was shared just the other night:
And if your dog is intact, they’ll probably breed it. Oh yeah, they will, and not get it any vet care the entire time if it struggles during the pregnancy/whelping because they don’t want to get caught nor do they have the money (which is why they’re stealing it in the first place). You think because you love/cherish your Yorkie or Maltipoo and spoil it, then that means someone else who swipes it while it’s running stray will think it’s cute and love it, too? Wrong. They only love the money they can get from your dog, that’s it. Do you think the guy who swiped the Great Dane is going to love/cherish this dog the rest of its life? The conditions it will live in until it’s sold (or bred), no telling what that’s going to be. I imagine this owner is sick beyond belief (I know I would be).
I went to school with a gal who had someone in a van circling their street. Finally she confronted them and they said they wanted to breed to her Dachshund. She informed them that he’s fixed, and then they left. No, they were going to steal him and sell him, her presence foiled their plan. People get dogs stolen out of yards all the time and sold, and at the time she didn’t have a fenced-in yard so the pickins was easy. People pass your dogs out on underground fence in the front yard by the street and see dollar signs. YOU HAVE GOT TO PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DOGS!
If you suspect your dog has been stolen from your yard (someone has seen a car circling your street/subdivision), and you have a secure fence that was undisturbed and no evidence of the dog getting out, do not hesitate to call the police. I spoke with my county Sheriff and he said to tell people reading this blog that if you don’t call, they can’t start a case file on the crime. The woman with the stolen Great Dane did exactly right and called the police immediately. It’s a good bet that people who go so far as to push someone down and steal their dog probably have a record, and you’ve got to report them so they can be stopped. (I asked the Sheriff if it would be bothering the police with a matter such as this, and he said, “no – we can’t help you if you don’t call us.”)
Who do they sell your dog/cat to, you might ask?
Absolutely anyone with the cash in hand (always cash, always out in a parking lot.) What kind of people are out there who have been denied adoption by rescues/shelters yet still think they need a pet? You’ve heard the extreme stories of the idiot guy who throws a kitten on the grill or people who throw animals out the window of a moving car? (The latter happens constantly, by the way. Saw a kitten brought into the vet after someone witnessed it being thrown out a car window on I-65 in broad daylight. The gal jumped off the first exit and went back to try and find it around the guardrail. The skin on its bottom jaw completely degloved, infection set up quickly, they had to euthanize it, kitten finder devastated. Countless stories like this. Not every animal gets a press release sent to the media. But I digress.) Shelters and rescues do the best they can to place a dog in a suitable home with a responsible pet owner. Rescues are a little pickier because they do home visits, shelters have to go on instinct. If a shelter denies someone adoption (because they’re threatening to beat their wife in the shelter’s foyer before they even get back to see the animals up for adoption), then guess where these wackos go to get a pet. Yep, flippers.
If you have a mutt, don’t think it’s safe, either. Even if you have the ugliest mutt around, they can be stolen to be sold to dog dealers who sell to research labs. Here’s a link to a video if you’d like to see a documentary on Class B kennels. Warning: it’s very graphic. Start at 33:15 to bypass the awful content and listen to the undercover video. If you think it’s no big deal to let your dog run loose, you need to force yourself to watch it so that you will understand the gravity of the situation. Pay close attention to the flea market setup where he was selling his dog to the broker. For more information about testing on dogs, click this link (know that I’m not a PETA fan, they’re as deadly as those conducting these experiments, as you can see in this article here. They need to have their non-profit status revoked, in my opinion.)
Sidenote: If a flipper gets tired of trying to sell your dog, they could just give it away for free just to unload their inventory. Or if they have the right breed/temperament of dog, they could still sell it for a minimal fee to a dog fighter. You might have heard people say, “dog fighters pour over Craig’s List or FB groups looking for free dogs/cats to use as bait.” If you think dog fighting doesn’t happen in your area, you are fooled. Check out the documentary titled “Off The Chain” that can be rented for $3 by clicking here. ( <– You will need to mentally prepare yourself to watch that documentary. I wasn’t, I thought I’ve seen everything – my reaction was either to cry or vomit, possibly both.) If you’re in Louisville, you probably remember this story. Or you might want to look up the definition of “trunking.” The ASPCA says dog fighting has really taken off in the past few years, and I would have no doubt it’s because of the advancement of technology. Additionally, if you have a “territorial” type breed/mix, it could be swiped just for this purpose.
(Note: The dog dealers selling to research facilities and dog fighters are precisely why you never post a pet for free online. This is also why I despise the “free adoption weekends” that some shelters put on – these people are such smooth liars. You’d think if you could manipulate people that well then they could get a real job and pay some taxes.)
Cats and kittens aren’t safe from flippers, either. Check out this exchange someone posted on a FB group as a warning to anyone who might be rehoming kittens (if she would have gotten her cat fixed, she wouldn’t have to worry about placing kittens. Contact us, we can help you get your cat fixed!!! But again I digress.)
Again, as these people go to sell your pet you handed them, they don’t care about the type of person that purchases your dog/cat. Rescues do home visits, it’s one of our requirements. We receive all kinds of hell for it, believe me. I was once publicly humiliated for requiring a home visit for Layla, the people projected that – before I even considered them for a home visit – they would probably get denied because of the condition of their property (something about a weedeater not being used. Wha? I swear, people say the craziest things.) My response was basically their anxiety over a possible home visit was enough to deny the adoption. And Layla needed a home with attention to detail and self-disclipline (which she got the best of both worlds with her eventual/current adopter). We get to come into a potential adopter’s home and make sure they don’t have a meth lab in the basement. We don’t expect people to be perfect; we simply expect them to be sane and care for their pet, medically and emotionally. If a person is found unfit to own a pet, they will be denied. Let me reiterate the point I made above, people who are denied can go and get any dog/cat for sale online knowing full well they can get away with all kinds of sick stuff. Like this case here: https://youtu.be/WnEysYWrQrM. Take a wild guess how that dog ended up in that condition? (How do you like humanity now? Are you sick yet?) Reputable rescues make sure they’re putting a dog in a home that will love it like it deserves. We’re pretty good at sniffing out liars; the good liars we’ve encountered have sharpened our instincts.
TYPE 2: Dog Flippers Acting As Rescues
Animal rescuers find themselves unknowingly rubbing elbows with these flippers out in public or social media because sometimes they slyly portray themselves as rescuers and ask for an “adoption fee” with their dogs/cats, too. However, their “fee” covers absolutely nothing – you get a hardly vetted or completely unvetted animal who is often very sick, infested with parasites, and/or have behavior issues they’ve uncaringly passed on to your home and family. It gives rescue a bad name, some of us work way too hard to be associated with these weasels of the pet world.
“So how do I make sure I’m adopting from a real rescue and not a flipper?”
It’s dumbfounding how skilled dog flippers are at pulling off appearing to be a rescue, or a “savior of dogs/cats”. A previous adopter experienced this firsthand. Here’s the story.
Adopter finds a dog online that she was interested in adopting. Because I can translate bios, people often send me a link to a dog they’re considering and ask me what I think. I give them feedback as to what they should ask the rescue/foster home and walk them through the decision if the dog would be a good fit for their home or not. In this specific situation, this adopter had recently adopted an adult puppy mill breeder from a rescue in New York that didn’t do much work with it (argh!) The adopter had been in contact with me on how I rehab the breeder dogs, coached her on how to train him, and she got fantastic results rather quickly (took her about 3 months of work). She wanted another dog to help pull the puppy mill dog the rest of the way out of his shell (since they tend to come to life around other dogs, or “borrow another dog’s energy” as I call it.) I told her she’d want a confident, happy dog with strong nerve that has no problem going forward to meet strangers. That’s kind of a hard dog to find in rescue (often rescue foster homes keep these dogs for themselves, sadly not offering them up to the public). If there is one actually posted online, they’re usually already adopted and the listing hasn’t been updated. It was really hard finding the right dog for this family.
One day she sends me this listing on Petfinder of a cute little mix-breed designer dog. The dog was available. They could see it immediately. Wow, that’s shocking. The whole family makes the trip to WV to see the dog with their puppy mill rescue dog joining them for the meet and greet. They video the dog with their puppy mill dog, seemed to be okay. On the ride home they texted me updates how the dog was doing in the car. Out of curiosity (because I had a weird feeling), I asked how much the adoption fee was. She texted back, “$450.” In the name of all things holy…..you have got to be kidding me. Nope, totally serious. She takes a picture of the “adoption contract” and sends it to me. And I start googling. (Watch and learn, kids…)
First, I go to their FB page. Hardly any activity. They had very few likes. Very few reviews. Red flag #1.
Second, I find their website. It’s basically one page, a website they created themselves, and at the bottom the gal said she had moved back home to Maryland. I text the adopter, “it says they’re based out of Maryland. And you went to West Virginia to get this dog?” She texts back that she was under the impression that the home she was at was THE rescue HQ. Huh. Dog flippers usually get busted in one state, move to another and set up shop again. What’s interesting about this “rescue” website is how they mentioned that they couldn’t believe how many pure bred dogs are in shelters in their area. Somehow they’ve finagled their animal control into allowing them to pull dogs from their facility.
Every non-profit should at the very least have an EIN number (Employer Identification Number) to be considered a non-profit corporation. Click here to see what POMH Rescue’s looks like. Otherwise, they’re an animal flipper making money (for-profit) and doing so illegally (they’re supposed to collect sales tax on dogs AND report their earnings to their state and IRS as income tax.) I look at the name on the adoption contract, the website, and the Facebook page and do a business entity search on Maryland’s Secretary of State’s website. Nothing. I do a business entity search on West Virginia’s Secretary of State’s website. Nothing. If a rescue has accrued $15,000 gross receipts over an average of 3 years ($5,000/yr on average), they’re required to file for their 501(c)(3). So, if you’re asking $450 adoption fees, you’re going to reach that $15,000/yr rather quickly. I go and search for the “rescue” on the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Select Check search of non-profits to see if they were listed. This “rescue” is absolutely nowhere to be found. Red flag #2.
I text my findings to the adopter. She’s instantly sick to her stomach. The good news is, she had the amount she paid on the “adoption contract” and the flipper’s signature. I told her she needs to hold on to that as evidence, call the attorney general’s office to report them to their state’s fraud department as well as the IRS. I also spoke with my county sheriff about this and he said to absolutely call the sheriff in your county if you ever see any kind of illegal behavior going on, this would qualify. If you don’t call them, they can’t investigate.
Report them to the IRS by going here: IRS tax fraud form
To report tax fraud to the state in which they’re living, do a search for “tax fraud” via the state’s Attorney General’s website.
The adopter went on and reported her. She tells me the same “rescuer” had a Standard Poodle they were adopting out for $800 and had someone coming to “adopt it” (buy it) that afternoon. That’s $1,250 tax free income in one day. How long does it take you to make that kind of money? When you finally earn that amount, how much do you actually get to take home after taxes (taxes that flippers are not paying)? And when people get that greedy and sneaky, the animal’s wellbeing is the last thing on their mind. They don’t care where the pet goes after that.
The pet world is a billion-dollar industry, and that’s based on the dollars that are come by honestly. There is no telling how much money these scumbags are making tax-free/under the table. When society gets lazy and disposable, your pets are at risk. Always, always, always be vigilant and keep and eye on your pet, keep your pets on leash if you don’t have a fence, do whatever it takes to keep your pet contained in your yard (it’s the law, anyway). We live in a sick world of scumbag opportunists, that is the reality all pet owners have to face.
You can take steps to keeping your pets safe. Being out with them is always a good idea (on leash), you can also get outdoor surveillance cameras for your home relatively cheap ($100-$200 at Walmart) to ward off dog flippers, and MICROCHIP YOUR PET! There are countless stories online about stolen dogs returned to owners. Collars and I.D. tags can be removed, microchip is where it’s at. You can contact your local shelter and get your pet microchipped for fairly cheap.
If you or someone you know has lost your pet from the fireworks, here are some steps to follow to help find it faster: