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Shelters warn about 'animal flippers' looking to make a buck

By Keith McCord | Posted - Nov 9th, 2011 @ 6:31pm


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SALT LAKE CITY -- You've heard the term "house flipping"-- the practice of buying a house then quickly turning around and reselling it at a higher price. Well, now comes "animal flipping," as in, going to a shelter, adopting a dog or cat, and then selling it online for a big profit.

The Utah Humane Society is seeing an increase in this activity and they want to warn people.

Carl Arky, director of communications for the Humane Society of Utah, said, "It didn't used to happen quite as often, but we're seeing it more and more, and it's something that's got us concerned."

It's happening all over the country. People are going into animal shelters, looking for cute puppies or kittens, then posting photos online. Oftentimes, no papers concerning breed or health is available. It's basically a lie to make a buck.

"It's, ‘Here's a great animal. I really love it. I have to move, I can't take it with me. I want to find a great home. Oh, by the way, I need $100,'" Arky said. "Hey, if you want to get that animal into a great home, you're not asking for $100 to do that."

What is... dog flipping?
Dog flipping is the practice of buying dogs -- usually online -- and then selling them for profit. Animal advocates say it's an alarming and growing trend.

Temma Martin, with the Best Friends Animal Society, said, "I don't know why anyone would buy online from a stranger and pay more money and get scammed rather than go to a shelter and rescue group and adopt it themselves."

An English Foxhound named Cooper was one of those flipped animals. He was adopted from the Humane Society October 28th. Four days later someone saw him listed for sale on a website.

"And within 24 hours we had somebody go out to the home and retrieve Cooper and bring him back here," Arky said.

The Humane Society is calling on popular classified websites to keep a closer eye on their sites to reduce the chances of unethical pet ads.

We found an example on ksl.com. The sellers used a fear tactic, saying the cat would be killed if no one wanted it, but it worked. The person who placed the ad told us hundreds of people called within minutes. He didn't mean it, but, says it got the job done and the cat has a new home.

Bottom line: if you want the truth about an animal you're adopting, shelter organizations will give you the honest answer.

"If you're buying from somebody who adopted a pet from a shelter, who then turned around and sold it, it's unethical and you're being taken advantage of," Martin said.

E-mail: kmccord@ksl.com

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