Two recent stories in the news taught two families harsh truths about the dangers of buying and selling dogs through online classifieds. Although many dog lovers have heard about dog flipping, the reality is that many families are not familiar with the pitfalls associated with pets advertised on Craigslist, Kijiji, Ebay and other buy and sell websites.
Such was the case with a family in Michigan who placed an ad on Craigslist for their young pit bull named Duke, writing the dog was "free to a good home". That same day a young couple who "seemed nice, but didn't have much money" took the dog named Duke home. But animal control officers in Ingham County later received a call from a panicked young girl who witnessed a teenager kicking and beating a small white dog. Authorities told WILX.com the dog was Duke and he ended up with a permanent limp as result of the abuse. Officers tracked down Duke's owners through his microchip, but were not able to track down the couple who took Duke.
Dog flipping often involves people who take dogs from unsuspecting people and flip them for a profit. Dog flippers usually pick up popular breeds or pick up unwanted litters from dog owners for free or at low cost. Dog flippers are also known to claim pets who have been posted online as "found" (so if you ever find a pet, make sure you ask for proof of ownership from anyone who shows up to claim the pet). These scammers are not the true owners of the lost pet, as they will quickly turn around and sell the formerly lost pet for a profit. But dogs in flipping cases are usually ill-treated, as one woman in Nebraska recently discovered.
Last month, Denise Smith purchased a puppy from a woman who had posted a Craigslist ad. She was told the puppy was 8 weeks old (the legal age for adoption) when she met the woman at a parking lot. But the next day after taking the puppy home, she noticed the puppy was sick and vomiting. She took him to the vet and was told the puppy was likely only 4 weeks old and had coccidiosis, an infection that luckily was treatable. She called back the number to alert the seller but was unable to reach her. She later learned through online posts the individual was a suspected puppy flipper and others had gotten sick puppies from her. One of the puppies had died of parvovirus.
In another case of dog flipping in Kansas City, Mike Pfieffer found a lost dog in his neighbourhood, but after the alleged owner retrieved the animal, Pfieffer found it for sale on Craigslist. After a quick search, Pfieffer found the same individual selling four other dogs.
Both cases highlight the need for people to be extremely cautious when using online classifieds or, better yet, avoid using them when considering buying a dog or giving up an unwanted pet.
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