“I would like to adopt the cat.” It was a good day for a foster parent who wanted to find a home for a rescued cat. Just minutes after pictures of the feline were shared online, someone had shown interest.

Then again, there were about twenty others who wanted dibs on the cat. It was, after all, a Maine Coon—and the purebred was about to get “flipped” for profit by someone who had no intention of keeping him.

FLIPPING PETS: WHAT IT MEANS

Let’s start with what it’s not: acrobatic feats involving animals. Nope, this kind of flipping has nothing to do with somersaults – and everything to do with scammers who acquire pets through deceptive means and sell them for profit.

Pet flipping violates several provisions of the amended Animal Welfare Act. It is a criminal practice that employs deceit and disregards animal welfare. Basically it’s claiming an animal for adoption, promising to give it a loving home, then turning around to sell it for profit. Now that’s cruel.

SPOT A FLIPPER

Looking for an adoptive parent for animals under your care? Make sure you give them to a loving home, not a flipper who will keep them in crowded cages until a buyer is found. Here are some red flags to watch for.

  1. Flippers don’t like to verify their identity. Ask for an ID and do an online search. Flippers don’t want to reveal their true names—this makes it so much easier for them to hide from you later.
  2. They might not pass adoption screening. Flippers usually do, but in case you’re dealing with amateurs, a careful interview might expose their true motives.
  3. They refuse to pay adoption and neutering fees. Flippers want to profit from your pet, not spend money on it. They will hesitate to pay for neutering – they know there’s more money from selling an intact purebred to a backyard breeder.

Although there are ways to spot a flipper, you still might end up being a victim. Make sure you spay your pets before you find them a home! Yes, a desperate pet flipper might earn a few bucks from neutered pets, but at least these animals wouldn’t experience the cruelty of irresponsible breeding.

 

PETS AS CASH COWS

 

Irresponsible pet owners who want to parade purebreds as a status symbol, people who can’t provide the care that a pet deserves, python owners looking to score free kittens to feed their snakes: these are just some of those who get weeded out by fosterers and rescuers during adoption screening.

However, people who get pets for free and sell them later—called pet flippers—know exactly what to say during these interviews.

 

They know what answers to give. They are scammers whose intent to adopt is based on duplicity.

Kryndall Garcia, a cat parent and animal welfare advocate, said pet flippers were everywhere. “I heard one Chow Chow [was] rescued by [a suspected flipper] and when he was asked about the dog’s whereabouts, ang daming dahilan (there were a lot of excuses to evade the questions).”

Apparently, the dog was sold to the highest bidder.

A few months ago, Kryndall also realized she was dealing with a potential flipper when she caught the person in a blatant lie.

“She posted native kittens for adoption because she [could] no longer add more to her hoard but [with] bulging eyes and fast fingers, [she typed that she was] ‘very willing to adopt’ when somebody posted cats with breed.”

Kryndall took screenshots of the suspected flipper’s two contradictory Facebook posts and shared them with her friends on Facebook, most of whom were rescuers and fosterers. She warned them against handing over rescued animals with so much as a hint of expensive breed to the suspected reseller.

Kryndall isn’t the only one using social to address the issue.

Pet Flippers Exposed, a Facebook group based in Central Carolina, calls out guilty parties online by posting incriminating screenshots. Their goal: to publicize “the names and photos of known pet flippers in hopes of putting an end to [flipping].”

Another Facebook community, Citizens Against Flipping Dogs, hopes to “bring awareness to the act of dog flipping.” The founders were once victims of resellers when they handed a puppy over to a family, who were then caught selling the dog on Craigslist.

 

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s September 2017 issue.