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WHITE COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) - If you've ever lost a pet, you know how upsetting it is. For many,a dog or cat is part ofthe family. And just when you think criminals can't stoop any lower, they surprise you. A disturbing new scam is on the rise across the country, including Arkansas.

Angela Rexon is quite the animal lover. She owns and runs a pet service in White County. Twenty plus animals are under her care; including goats, llamas, and a horse. But her favorite animalsareDobermans.

Rexon explains, "They arecompletely honest. They are the only thing that's completely honest."

She breeds them, trains them to be medical alert dogs and then sells them to Arkansans.

"With autism, they [the owner]will wander off or whatever and the dog will stay with them or bark until someone gets them help," says Rexon.

But her family of animals is now missing a member.

"It's like a parent that lost a child," she says with tears in her eyes.

Her two-year-old Doberman, Kais, disappeared in early October.

"He was 100 percent stolen."

She says aneighbor saw two men take the dog. Because of his breed, Rexon believes he was stolen for a quick profit.

"I think they are sick. I think they are very sick."

If this were the case, it would make her a victim of a new scam called "pet flipping." It's when a thief will either steal or find a lost pet and then sell it online on websites like Craigslist.

Without breeding papers, Rexon's dog is worth about $500. With fabricated breeding papers though, Kais could go for as much as $2,000

Some states have a law requiring people turnover a lost pet within 24 hours of finding it. Arkansas doesn't have that law.

THV11 spoke with Little Rock Animal Village, North Little Rock Animal Control,Pulaski County Humane Society, Faulkner County Humane Society, Bryant Animal Control, Benton Animal Control, Maumelle Animal Services, Briarwood Animal Hospital, and CARE for Animals.While most have heard of the pet flipping scam they say it's extremely hard to criminally prove.

Local police officers and deputiesagree. Of the 11lawmen THV spoke with, only five have knowledge of pet flipping but have no proof it's actually happened in their county or city.

However, Officer Theresa Redmon of the Indianapolis Police Department says it's spreading across the country and guarantees its happening in Arkansas.

She says,"Some of these Craigslist ads are crazy. I'm the one with the gun and the badge and I go knocking on doors."

As far as Officer Redmon knows, a full time pet flipping investigative job like hers is the only one in the country.

"My number one goal is to get that dog back to its owner," she explains.

At least 10 such cases of "pet flipping" have been reported in Indianapolis this year alone.

"I've known these animals to be flipped all the way to Georgia."

Redmon says criminals can make anywhere from $50 to several thousand dollarson one lost pet, depending on the breed.

"Police departments will focus more on crimes against a person. Every police department considers an animal property," says Redmon. "I don't look at it that way. I look at it as if this is somebody's family member."

"Police departments will focus more on crimes against a person. Every police department considers an animal property," says Redmon. "I don't look at it that way. I look at it as if this is somebody's family member."

TO AVOID BECOMING A PET FLIPPING VICTIM


1.
Police advise you not leave your pet unattended, even in your own yard.
2. If your pet does come up missing, check the pets section of Craigslist to see if someone is trying to sell it.
3. Get your pets micro chipped. If someone finds your dog, it's an easy way to prove you own it.

Officer Redmon says, "I would hope other departments would start digging into what this is all about. It's happening and it's happening everywhere."

Back with Rexon, she called police and even filed a report. So far, there's beenno leads. For nearly a month, she's been busy searching online websites and scouring White County neighborhoods.

Rexon says, "We've offered a cash reward. We've done everything we can think of. I don't even care if they show their face. Pull up in my yard and drop him off."

Without Kais, breeding for her is no longer an option. Helping people with medical disabilities, won't happen. It's a loss of about $9,000.

"I'm probably out of business because there is no way of rebuilding at this point," she explains.

She's hoping by sharing her story, animal lovers will do what they can to protect their family pet.

TheAmerican Kennel Club tells THV 11 that the number of dogs stolen across the U.S. has jumped 47 percent from January 2012-September 2013.

• Dogs stolen in 2008: 71 dogs
• Dogs stolen in 2009: 162 dogs
• Dogs stolen in 2010: 255 dogs
• Dogs stolen in 2011: 444 dogs
• Dogs stolen in 2012: 458 dogs
• Dogs stolen from Jan. 2013-Sept. 2013: 450 dogs

The Top 5 Breeds Stolen
Yorkshire Terrier
Chihuahua
Pomeranian
Labrador Retriever
French Bulldog
*Pitbulls are the most stolen so far in 2013.

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