Dog talk with Uncle Matty: Low-down dirty pet-flippers

By From page A9 | September 27, 2013

According to the Bible, the love of money is the root of all evil. According to Mark Twain, the lack of money is the root of all evil. For love or lack, people concoct some low-down dirty schemes in the name of the blessed dollar. One of the latest involves flipping pets.

With not the slightest care for the anxiety and heartbreak that comes with a missing dog or cat — a family member lost — this particular brand of criminal steals lost dogs off of neighborhood streets or right out of the dog’s own yard and sells them for a quick buck on sites such as Craigslist. These crooks also scour “lost dog, found dog” sites, claiming a “found dog” as their own only to turn around and hock the pooch for anywhere from $50 to $1,000, depending on the popularity of the breed.

NBC’s produced a story in August about this summer’s surge in pet flipping. A cute little schnauzer named Rosie went missing in Indianapolis, and so her owner, Leisa Waggoner, launched a search. She posted missing dog fliers and hit the lost dog sites. That’s where she found her Rosie — already claimed by some poser. When Waggoner managed to locate and contact the con who had falsely claimed Rosie, the woman, Jennifer Dodd, attempted to extort a reward from Waggoner for Rosie’s return. Dodd was arrested and pleaded guilty to felony theft.

And here’s the part that would get a “told ya so” from Twain: Dodd said she did it for cash to buy diapers for her kids, telling Today, “I’m a single mom. I have fraternal twins on the way, and I have a 1-year-old, and you know, the economy’s hard and stuff nowadays.”

“Hard and stuff” or not, the need to support your family doesn’t justify the harming of another family.

Ultimately, Dodd got caught because she’s a dolt who delivered her extortion note via text message. Most criminals aren’t the inept Virgil Starkwells of Woody Allen’s “Take the Money and Run,” who flubbed his bank robbery arguing over the legibility of his “holdup” note to the teller. And most aren’t as easily reformed as the lovable Virgil, who swooned, “After 15 minutes I wanted to marry her, and after half an hour I completely gave up the idea of stealing her purse.”

For love or lack, they carry on with their ruthless pursuit of the quick buck. And as in most things, the best defense is the best defense:

Don’t leave your dog alone in your yard unless you have an insurmountable fence and locked gates. Even then, don’t leave him outside when you aren’t home. When your dog is inside, he’s safer and your home is safer. Crate him if he can’t be trusted alone in the house yet.

Walk your dog on a leash. Always. He’s less likely to get lost and less likely to be hit by a car.

Microchip your dog. A chip can’t be removed like an ID tag, and it’s solid proof of ownership. Make sure the chip is registered and your information is current.

If your dog does go missing, check the “dogs for sale” section of Craigslist for his appearance. And if you do manage to hunt down the perp, try to establish contact via text.


Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at, and visit him at Send your questions to [email protected] or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619.

Copyright 2013 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Matthew Margolis

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