Rescue group warns about "animal flipping" scam

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Some animal rescue groups are warning the public about giving away pets on the internet.

Organizations are seeing an uptick in reports of people searching websites for free animals then turning around to sell them, also known as "animal flipping."

A Cincinnati-area woman recently fell victim to an animal flipper.

"I placed the add on Facebook for a rabbit for sale. We raise rabbits for show and it didn't make the cut for the show table so we were selling it just as a pet," said the woman, who did not want to share her name.

Almost instantly, she received a message from a woman in the Northern Kentucky area saying, "I already have two rabbits I rescued that I let frolic through my home. Would you consider giving it away to a good home."

"I wasn't really selling it to make money off of it so I just thought as long as it has a good home I'm fine with that," said the victim.

She decided to give the woman the rabbit. Just two days later, the same photos from her ad were re-posted online with the rabbit up for sale.

"The first thing I did was contact her and of course she didn't answer me and I told her I wanted the rabbit back that I would find it a home. I didn't need her to find it a home. I mean what kind of person does that," she said.

Heather Coulter, a volunteer with PawPrints Animal Rescue, said it happens often.

"It especially happens around Christmas time. You see a lot more people are wanting to flip them to make Christmas money. Quick easy cash," said Coulter.

She said some of the dogs end up in dog fighting rings. However, there are other dangers. She said many flippers sell strays or other animals they find on the street. If you bring an animal into your home that isn't properly vetted, it could spread diseases to you and your family.

"If someone's asking you to bargain the price down it's a huge red flag. If they're asking if an animal is micro-chipped that's a red flag because animals can be traced and they don't want animals traced," said Coulter.

This time around this victim was able to get her rabbit back after she had a friend buy it back. A fee that came with an important lesson.

"When you're trying to rehome an animal make sure it goes to a good place," said the victim.

PawPrints Animal Rescue said it best to contact a rescue or shelter to rehome a pet. However, if you do decide to post an ad online check out the buyer's home before making the exchange and charge a fee. They said those who really want a pet will pay a fee.

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