Nothing is sadder than a handwritten lost dog sign. Missing pets are always heartbreaking, but a new modern twist has made the lost dog or cat sign even more disturbing. “Pet flipping” is becoming a common occurrence, of which all pet owners need to be cautious.
“Pet flipping” occurs when unscrupulous people find a lost pet, and instead of looking for the rightful owner, they will attempt to sell it on Craigslist or similar websites. Craigslist is an online, and free local classified ad website.
Some villains have gone so far as to steal a pet from someone’s back yard to try and sell it on Craigslist.
While this may seem farfetched, more and more stories are coming out about this practice.
In Seminole, Danielle, a veterinary nurse, had her Boston terrier, “Misfit,” run out the front door. Within 45 minutes, it was listed for sale on Craigslist. As is usually the case, the “sellers” argued that it was not her dog and that they were “rescuing it.”
This is where the great difficulty comes. Often times the police, or even the court system, must become involved to prove who the rightful owner is.
Many people rely on a collar, a tag and their dog or cat’s appearance for identification. Collar and tags can be easily removed, and many times purebred pets can be very similar in appearance. Even if you think you’ve found your lost pet on Craigslist, proving it can be much more difficult.
Luckily, protection is readily available in the form of a microchip. Microchips, which are the size of a grain of rice and implanted beneath the skin, are the best way to have permanent, unalterable identification of your pet. When the microchips are appropriately registered to the owner, the proof is certain. Registering the microchip, which pairs the owner’s information with the individual microchip number, is vital. A pet owner should always register their pet’s microchip with the database held by the individual microchip’s manufacturer.
An Avid microchip should be registered in the Avid database, while an AKC microchip should be registered in the AKC database. In the United States, there is no centralized database registry, so registering with the manufacturer is the best way to ensure your name and information is attached with your pet.
Lastly, if you buy (or “adopt for a fee”) from a stranger online or on Craigslist, please immediately take the pet to an animal hospital, animal shelter or animal services to be scanned. You do not want to be an accomplice in the theft of someone’s four-legged family member.
Microchips have always been important in hurricane-prone Florida. We all remember the horrible stories of pets lost forever after Katrina and Charlie. Now with “Pet Flipping,” danger can occur on a clear day in your own backyard. Get your pets microchipped, and register the microchips, as soon as possible.
Michael Rumore practices at Lake Seminole Animal Hospital in Seminole, and at online at www.LakeSeminoleAH.com. His podcast about pet care can be found at free online at PetAnswers.com as well as on iTunes.