Lost a pet? Check the Internet; lost dogs being sold online

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Many of us consider pets like Scout to be a member of the family. But when those precious pups go missing, there's not much that can be done if they've fallen victim to this latest scam.

"Our little silky terrier, it's a sub breed of a Yorkie got out one day," said Aaron Lowe.

Lowe says 11-year-old Sushi went missing on December 5. That afternoon Lowe got a call from someone claiming they had found the dog, but the caller said Sushi ran away from them. Sushi was chipped, so the Lowes alerted the local shelters, and the microchip company as well, but Sushi was never found. Then the Lowes found something strange.

"My wife actually found Sushi for sale on craigslist. And the contact number for craigslist was the same number that had contacted me letting me know they had found my dog," said Lowe.

The Lowes believe they had fallen victim to a practice known as dog flipping.

"This has actually been going on for years. It's a huge problem," said animal rescuer Erin Bouton.

Bouton adds dog flipping is a growing problem here in the Houston area.

"These are people that will steal dogs out of your back yard. They'll take dogs that are obviously owned, maybe just lost. Instead of trying to find the owners, they turn around and flip them for cash," said Bouton.

The types of dogs that are targeted?

"Well it's a purebred," said Bouton.

And sometimes even more money depending on the breed.

"So people are looking for their dogs out there, and they're being sold on craigslist and you can't track them," said Bouton.

The Lowes say they were able to trace the number they had to a neighbor's home a few blocks away.

"We figured out where he lived and called the police and sent them back over. They searched the house, didn't find anything. He's a minor so there wasn't a whole lot else we could do," Lowe said.

But is it a crime?

"If the dog is not your dog, it's not your property, because dogs are property in Texas. So if you misappropriated somebody else's property, that's theft," said Zandra Anderson, a Houston attorney.

The Lowes say they're not giving up and hope someone see's this story and recognizes Sushi.

"We just really want our dog back and like more people to be aware of what's going on out there," said Lowe.

If your dog goes missing and you see it posted online for sale, experts say to call the authorities immediately and explain the situation to them. Then set up a meeting with the alleged seller, escorted by the police. If you can prove that the dog is yours, that may be the best way to get it back.
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