Kansas City, MO -- For pet owners, the thought of someone else claiming their dog and selling it is devastating.
But it's happening. It's called "pet-flipping," and it is on the rise in Kansas City and across the nation.
Mike Pfieffer loves his two dogs, Buddy and Marlie. But when he recently found a dog in his neighborhood and posted it on Craigslist, things got a little fishy.
"He couldn't tell me where he lived. I just found the dog right up the street, and he couldn't answer a few other questions," Pfieffer said.
Pfieffer agreed to meet the man and was talked into handing the dog over, only to see the same dog for sale the next day on Craigslist.
"It made me dive in there a little further, put his phone number in there, and he was selling four dogs," Pfieffer said.
Jennifer O'Neil volunteers a lot of her time to help stop 'pet-flipping.' "They'll see a pure bred Boxer at a certain location, then they'll call and say, 'Oh my God! You've found my dog. Thank you so much.' They pick it up and flip it under the pets ad. [which means they] Sell it for a profit," O'Neil said.
It is a simple good deed that turns into a dog never getting back to its rightful owner.
Police said it is a crime if the dog claimer knows they are taking a dog that doesn't belong to them.
Danielle Reno of Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption said people need to watch out when posting lost dogs on Craigslist.
She also said it is going on all over the country, and new pet owners buying the dogs have no idea where they came from.
"There are a lot of people that lose their dog during its life, and they rely on the faith of a good person to return their dog to them," Reno said.
There are ways to protect pet owners and their pet from internet thieves.
Pet shop owners say make sure to get a computer chip put into a dog, that way it can be identified. And make sure you update oyur animal's registration information if you move, or change phones.
If you find a stray dog, the best bet is to take it to the local shelter.
"Pets can wander a long ways, but a lot of the times they may just be lost right around your neighborhood, and people are going to go to the shelter that is closest to their neighborhood," said Tori Fugate with KC Pet Project.
We checked with Greensboro Police Depatrment and they said they haven't heard of pet flipping and have no cases of it in Greensboro that they know of.