DENVER -- Reports of "dog flipping" are surfacing throughout the country. The act is similar to flipping a home, but the big difference is it involves a four-legged pup to make a quick buck.
Some reports of alleged dog flipping involve pets that are snatched from their owners, then sold online. A similar version works when the dog is adopted and is then sold on websites like Craigslist.
A recent post on Craigslist in Denver caught the attention of many pet owners.
“It was listed for $500. It said specifically on the Craigslist ad that this dog was adopted from a shelter,” said Ann Mertens, who said she couldn't believe her eyes.
The ad struck her as odd because she said a Colorado Bernese mountain dog for sale on Craigslist is very unusual. Mertens said the breed is usually only available through rescue groups or breeders, not a shelter. Mertens said nothing about the ad felt right.
“The dog was neutered and up to date on the vaccination. And that the person who adopted the dog posted it for sale on Craigslist and said that they did not have enough time for this dog,” Mertens said.
It sparked a question for Mertens: Was the family that took the purebred dog home from the Foothills Animal Shelter trying to make a quick buck?
“We had just adopted out the Bernese mountain dog. We contacted the owner and just wanted to check up and make sure,” said Jessie Burns with the shelter.
She said the owners claimed they knew nothing about the ad.
“They were very shocked to see that this post had happened on Craigslist. They said it was not theirs,” she said.
Burns said the dog has since been back to the shelter for a checkup. More than a week after the post was discovered, it's unclear who posted it and why. The ad screamed money-making scheme to some who saw it.
“You realize that someone was flipping this dog like how they flip houses to make a quick profit,” Mertens said.
Deb Brinkley said she knows all about dog flipping. She runs DHK Rehoming, a dog shelter in Aurora, and said it happened to Riley, a 2-year-old Siberian husky who was adopted by a woman.
“We found out about three weeks later that the dog was on Craigslist and that it had been sold on Craigslist,” Brinkley said.
When she saw the ad, she tried tracking down the woman. Brinkley said she even tried taking her to court in hopes of finding out where Riley ended up. Brinkley got nowhere.
“I still worry about Riley. Is she tied up in a backyard? Is she warm? Is she getting food? Is she part of a family? We have no idea,” Brinkley said.
The version of dog flipping where an adopted dog is immediately sold for profit can get a little fuzzy because technically it's not illegal. But Brinkley said just because a flipper isn't breaking the law doesn't mean flipping can't hurt a dog in the long run.
The ordeal changed the way she runs her organization.
“Some people think I'm a little overboard on who gets to adopt. But you know experience teaches you that you need to be more careful,” Brinkley said.
Burns said the Foothills Animal Shelter adopts thousands of dogs a year and this is the first time it has dealt with even a close call of dog flipping. She believes the shelter’s vetting process helps weed out anyone who wants anything other than a new addition to their family.
“So it's very frustrating when this sort of thing happens because we do so much to make sure all of our animals are going into good homes,” Burns said.
Citizens Against Dog Flipping said people looking for a new dog should go to a reputable shelter, rescue group and breeder. It also recommends that people stay away from searching for a dog on websites like Craigslist.