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'Horrible & Grotesque': Dog Owner Warns Others Of 'Pet Flipping'

DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver man whose dog ran away from home is warning people of several possible scams he encountered while trying to get her back. In December, Derek Guilin's dog, Lou Seal, named lovingly after the San Francisco Giants mascot, ran out of the house after wind blew open the front door.

After searching his Capitol Hill neighborhood and finding no sign of Lou Seal, Guillin did what any pet owner would do. For days he put up flyers and posted on several social media platforms.

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That's when Guilin says he experienced his first red flag.

"On Tuesday, three separate people tried to scam me for my Google information to crack my Google account," Guilin said.

Just the night before, Guilin did his research on possible pet scams and says he learned to never share information from his Google account.

Three days later, he still hadn't found Lou Seal and was starting to lose hope.

"Friday morning I was kind of crippled. Then by Friday night I got a call and it was her," Guilin said.

"I was like, 'please just send me some photos so I know that this is her.'"

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While he got the photos, Guilin says things didn't seem totally right.

"I mean, pretty much the first thing that he said was 'Hey, I have your dog. I bought her for $150.' So, the money came into play right off the bat," Guilin said. "I told him I'd bring $150. That didn't seem to be sufficient enough, so I added another $100 onto that."

Eventually, Guilin got Lou Seal back, but he's still skeptical of what happened. While the man said he bought Lou Seal from a homeless man, he wouldn't provide many more details.

Guilin suspects he could be a victim of "pet flipping" -- where people sell lost, stolen, or rescue dogs they don't own.

"The fact that people are trying to exploit other people at a really low time in their life is horrible and grotesque," he said.

Kelli Jelen is the Animal Management Supervisor for Westminster police, which investigates these types of cases. She shared her advice for any person in a similar situation.

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"Microchip is number one to prove that it is your dog," Jelen said. "I think the dog owner should get as much documentation on this person, phone number, names, any kind of addresses. The information that he has, and he needs to take it to his local police or sheriff's department and make a report."

Guilin tells CBS4 he didn't do that because he just wanted the situation to be over, and that could be why many departments are aware of these situations, but don't have many reports on file.

"If somebody is trying to scam you, you really need to report it to the police," Jelen said.

Guilin hopes his situation serves as a warning to other dog owners in Denver.

"My goal in all of this is that this never happens to anybody else again."

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