"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Flipping is the practice of obtaining an asset at a low price, and then immediately selling the asset for profit. This asset can be a home, a car, or even a pet. The trend of flipping pets is on the rise in North America, and with the right tools, can be prevented.
Animals being used as a way to profit is potentially problematic. A flipper may acquire an animal through an animal shelter (posing as the real owner, or adopting during low/no cost adoption sale), on buy/sell websites, or by stealing.
After acquiring an animal, the flipper will need to sell quickly. Animals need to be taken care of, and this costs time and money. A flipper may not provide the proper care to a pet, simply because they view the animal as means to an end, and that care will lower their profit margin. Flippers may acquire dozens of animals at a time, be 'stored' in poor conditions, and not provide the proper amount of socialization and exercise. Worst case scenario, a dog or cat dies due to poor care. Best case scenario is an animal is subjected to the stresses of moving home to home to home with people the pet hardly knows.
How to Prevent Pet Flipping:
1. Only purchase/adopt animals from reputable breeders or shelters. Although the cute dog or cat on Facebook needs a new home, by boycotting sellers from online buy/sell sites you can completely prevent the flippers from having a way of selling pets for profit.
2. Owners that need to rehome pets should use offline social connections (friends, or friends of friends) to find a new home. This method may not be easier than an online marketplace, but it is definitely safer for the animal. Most municipalities also have animal shelters that accept relinquished pets.
3. Microchip your pet. Microchipping provides proof of ownership for most animal shelters, so that no one else can reclaim if it is impounded. It also cannot be removed by a thief before selling the animal. Most microchip companies require a bill of sale in order to alter information on a microchip, so a thief wouldn't be able to easily change it even if they have a microchip reader.
4. Only use reputable pet boarders and trainers. There have been cases of a dog owner allowing a person from a Facebook ad to watch their pet, and then the sitter becomes unreachable. The fraudulent sitters sell the pets and move on to their next victim.
5. If you suspect an animal is being flipped, report the situation to the Alberta SPCA. If you feel the animal is in immediate danger or suspect neglect, call Bylaw Service. While the act of flipping (if the animal is acquired by legal means) is not illegal in most places, the conditions in which many flippers store the pets can be unsuitable and could be illegal.