You see a cute puppy online. You’re in luck; he’s for sale! You purchase him—only to find out later that he’s been stolen from his original human.

Unfortunately for you, the possession of stolen goods is a crime. At best, you never get your money back—and yes, you lose the puppy.

It’s a cautionary tale about indiscriminate pet buying. You should know it by heart if you’re looking for a furry companion, especially with pet flippers out there happily duping potential adoptive parents like you…all for the sake of profit.

Absolutely Criminal

Let’s not mince words: pet flipping is illegal. The amended version of the Animal Welfare Act holds people accountable if they sell or trade animals without registering with the Bureau of Animal Industry.

But in case animal flippers somehow end up with legit certificates of registration to sell animals, it is still illegal for them to buy or adopt animals if they are deprived of adequate care. In a separate section, the republic act dictates that causing an animal “any unnecessary suffering” after its original owner relinquishes possession is considered maltreatment.

What Can You Do

Stop buying pets from random ads on Facebook or online selling platforms.

In fact, don’t buy from pet stores, too. Adopt purebreds from responsible breeders, not from fly-by-night sellers who might be flippers.

Demand information.

Responsible breeders are happy to discuss everything about their dogs and cats, from temperament to the breed’s history, according to Robin Tierney’s article for Partnership on Animal Welfare. Pet flippers, on the other hand, won’t have the same know-how. They probably won’t even have past records of visits to the vet.

Ask for old pictures.

Flippers are not likely to have pictures of animals as they were growing up, as pointed out by Alyssa Kleven for My Northwest.

Don’t buy from people who never seem to run out of various pets to sell.

Responsible breeders usually specialize in less than a handful of breeds. Resellers, who find animals to sell just about anywhere, have a rather diverse collection of animals.

Adopt; don’t shop.

While buying pets from responsible breeders ensures that animals are bred humanely, rescuing and adopting show the most compassion for animals that are in desperate need of a home. Adopting cats and dogs from shelters or foster parents also ensures that pets find homes not for profit’s sake, but for theirs.

Why Flipping is Wrong

  1. Cash is the main criterion for adoption. Money is the bottom line. Adoption is done sans screening: The pet is handed over by the flipper to whoever coughs up money, even if that person ends up killing the poor animal for a crush video.
  2. Deception is required. For pet flippers who get purebreds for free (or for cheap) from people who rescue animals, they have to misrepresent their motives and pretend they’re committed, responsible pet owners.
  3. Animal welfare is disregarded. Animal flipping is done for profit, not for pets. Without proper adoption screening, there is no way of knowing if the people who want to buy dogs or cats from pet flippers are capable of paying for vet visits, vaccination, and pet food. Worse, they might not have what it takes to provide the one thing that a pet truly wants: unconditional love, without threat of being abandoned, discarded, or rehomed if they so much as become a minor inconvenience.


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