Lost dog? You should probably check Craigslist

Jul 28, 2015 at 2:45 p.m. ET

If you've ever lost a pet, you know how heartbreaking and anxiety-producing it can be. However, what might turn your stomach even more is if you found out your missing pet was being sold on Craigslist.

It's sadly becoming a common occurrence. Thieves are stealing dogs that have been tied up outside, taking dogs that wander off their owners' property, even lifting them out of owners' backyards. Thankfully, some of these thefts are caught on security cameras, but that doesn't always help catch the perpetrators.


However, what does seem to help is a quick search on Craigslist, as many stolen dogs end up there soon after their abduction, because thieves want to turn around their hot merchandise quickly. Thus, the phrase "dog flipping" was born. Spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club Brandi Hunter told SheKnows that this troubling trend has been gaining popularity since 2008. In 2014, a total of 637 dogs were stolen, a 4.5 percent increase from the previous year. The most common breeds stolen are pit bulls and pit bull mixes, followed by Yorkshire terriers, chihuahuas, bulldogs, Pomeranians, Shih Tzus and German shepherds.

So, why has this trend suddenly taken hold of the country? Ms. Hunter says they attribute it to a rise in people using social media and online sites for reselling. It's simply too easy for anyone to sell pretty much anything on sites like Craigslist, and no one's asking whether or not said items had been stolen.

If you suspect your dog's been stolen, but can't find them on local sale sites like Craigslist, there's another way people are getting them back. Today, most pets who are bought or adopted have been microchipped so that they can be tracked if lost or stolen. When Mia Estrada's dog Marley was stolen off the street, the woman who bought him off the dog flipper had him checked for a microchip, and sure enough, it showed to whom he rightfully belonged.

There are also ways to protect your dogs from ever being stolen in the first place. For one thing, you should never leave your dog tied up outside while you head into a store — you're asking for a flipper to come by, and scoop up your dog in less than a few seconds. If you let them out in the back or front yard, make sure there are no openings in your fence, and that the fence is high enough to keep intruders out. Installing security cameras is helpful for the police in case your dog is actually taken.


If your dog is lost, and you suspect stolen, contact your local law enforcement immediately, and give them your dog's microchip information. You can also scan your local Craigslist, and any other popular reselling sites for your pet a few hours after they've gone missing. If you have the know how, use social media against the flippers by sharing pictures of your missing dog on your wall, as well as on local pet shelter Facebook pages.

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