THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. - It can be devastating when your pet goes missing.
"Helpless, distraught, angry, sad, and heartbroken," Melissa Neiderman said.
So much that owners plaster missing signs all over, and offer extreme rewards. Such as Melissa Neiderman, giving $5000 to the person who gives her back Bogey, a reward donated by a family friend. Bogey is a white maltese, lost in Andreas Palms, near Bogert Trail on Thursday, July 25th.
"Bogey is our child. If you, and I know many people do, love your pet like your child it is not crazy," she said.
Sometimes, pets aren't lost -- they're stolen, and then sold.
"It's big business and little chance of getting arrested for it," Lindi Biggi sid.
It's called dog-flipping -- an extension of dog-napping, which the American Kennel Club reports a spike in in recent years.
"They steal these valuable animals and sell them to research centers, to breeders, and they take them out of state and put them in newspapers and online to market them," Lindi Biggi, president of Loving All Animals, said.
Recovering a lost or stolen pet is difficult, sometimes impossible, but definitely preventable. Microchip your pet. This way, if the pet is ever taken to a vet, the dog can get traced back to you. Also, spay and neuter, making your pet less attractive to flippers.
"Animals being flipped, the people who steal them want to flip them to make money. They want to flip an animal and make money off of it so people can breed the animals and make money off the puppies," Frank Corvino of Coachella Valley Animal Campus said.
Moreover, don't ever leave your pet alone at a park. It may sound simple, but keep your eyes on your loved furry one at all times. You never know where a dog-flipper may be.
Keep up to date photos to post on fliers all around town including local shelters if your animal goes missing, or to prove it's yours when found.
Neiderman doesn't know exactly what happened to bogey. She knows he might truly just be lost.
"There are people who are afraid to admit they have the dog they think they'll get in trouble. We are no questions asked. We mean it," she said. "When I see Bogey, it will be the equivalent to the birth of my son, I guess. To see Bogey, it will be absolute joy and I will be forever grateful to everyone who has helped us."
Animal experts urge people to know that if you do ever lose a pet, check at your local animal shelters to see if it's found.
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