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Expert: Dog-Flipping -- Theft And Resale -- On The Rise, So Take Precautions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Here's a warning for dog owners: there's been an increase in dog-flipping -- when someone steals a pet and then turns around and quickly sells it.

You may remember a dog-napping case in Washington Heights last Christmas. A guy grabbed "Marlie," who was tied-up outside a food store and then sold her to a woman downtown. Luckily, that woman was a Good Samaritan and when she took Marlie to a vet and found she was micro-chipped the pricy pooch was re-united with her family.

But as CBS 2's Cindy Hsu reported Wednesday, that's often not the case. Some dogs are re-sold on the Internet, with the new owners having no idea where their new pets really came from.  Dr. Ben Davidson told Hsu people need to be aware that dog-flipping is on the rise.

"Definitely, it's on the increase. This year there's a 28-percent higher rate than last year," said Davidson, of BluePearl Veterinary Partners.

Davidson said the number one way to protect your pooch is to "make sure your pet is micro-chipped. It's very safe. It's quick."

You can get it done at your local vet, and within seconds a scanner can find the chip number, Hsu reported.

Dog-flippers also get dogs for free at shelters, or from people who can no longer take of their pet, experts said.

Now, if you do need to give up your pet for whatever reason, make sure you research the people who may take them. It would be wise to Google their phone number and their information, especially any unique traits such as hypoallergenic dogs that don't shed as the listings for specific traits will be more narrow. If any of that information shows up on websites that sells pets that should be a huge red flag, Hsu reported.

Dennis Giuliano told Hsu he had never heard of dog-flipping, but said he plans to be extra careful with his pooch, "Ellie."

"I think it just reinforces the fact that I don't want to leave her outside unattended and not really have her out of my sight at all," Giuliano said.

Experts say keep your pets close, and don't leave them tied up outside. They also advised to get your pets spayed and neutered so they won't be used for breeding, and always keep a current photograph of your pet, which will help locate them if they end up missing.

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