by Sarah Einselen Pharos-Tribune
---- — A phenomenon known as “pet flipping” has been spreading through central Indiana, but officials around Cass County say they haven’t noticed it yet farther north.
One woman whose dog went missing during a 10-minute span May 10 suspects her dog was stolen and later resold — what’s called “pet flipping” or sometimes “dog flipping,” depending on the species of the animal.
“It was just too short of a time frame for him to have run away,” explained Debra Clark, whose daughter Brittany Clark owned Rocket, a purebred white husky.
The Clarks, who live near the Cass County line in Miami County, reported the suspected theft to the Miami County Sheriff Department. However, “I don’t have any proof,” said Debra Clark. No one witnessed the departure of the dog and the dog had not had a microchip identification inserted underneath his skin, she explained.
She had offered a $500 reward for the 18-month-old dog’s return. More than 700 people have subscribed to a Facebook page, “Finding Rocket,” advertising the reward. But so far, no luck.
“Everybody’s looking for Rocket,” said Debra Clark. “I would’ve thought for $500, somebody would have brought the dog back.”
The Indianapolis Star on July 16 reported the arrest of two accused pet flippers as well as noting other, lower-profile cases with similar charges had been filed with the prosecutor’s office in the city.
Miami County Sheriff Timothy Miller recommended that anyone suspecting their pet was stolen should report the incident to law enforcement.
However, he said he hadn’t seen a trend of pet flipping occurring in the area.
Pets occasionally run away or suffer an unknown accident causing them to fail to return home, he added. “I don’t know how you know for sure when someone steals your dog unless you find it.”
“It could happen, it probably does,” he added. But the department had not handled any cases where a pet theft and resale had been confirmed.
Cass County Sheriff Randy Pryor suggested that since his department had not seen any trend of that sort, either, pet thefts may have simply gone unreported if they have happened.
“I can’t say it hasn’t taken place,” he said, “but we just get very few reports of anything like that, here in recent times anyway.”
Tags on pets usually help lost pets get back home, the sheriffs said.
“Can a collar be removed? Yes, but if there’s no criminal intent of a person, they can have a phone number on the dog collar where the owner can be contacted if the dog does wander off,” said Pryor.
Both sheriffs and the Cass County Humane Society also recommended that pet owners have identifying microchips implanted in their pets. Petfinder.com estimates the average cost of a microchip implant at about $45.
The microchip connects the dog to a national registry of pet owners, whose data must be kept current by the pet owners themselves. It acts as a tag that won’t fall off, be removed or become impossible to read.
“If you have a recent photo and it’s pretty detailed, I’m sure that’s a pretty certain way also,” Pryor added. Veterinary records and X-rays from previous veterinary visits can also aid law enforcement in identifying a pet if a possibly stolen animal is located.
Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151.