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Yorkie rescued from dog flipper

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Preston is safe at home today, June 12, in Houston after a narrow escape from someone who sells dogs on Craig's List. The little Yorkie is 15, but has the heart of a puppy. He wiggled under a fence on Friday night to go exploring and was immediately missed and just as quickly picked up by a passerby. His frantic family began putting up flyers, searching the neighborhood and consoling their children.

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The finder posted Preston on Houston Craig's List and on the statewide FaceBook page, Lost Dogs of Texas, where she got a free flyer courtesy of HelpingLostPets.com. Social media began to work its magic as a cross poster copied the Craig's List ad onto a local FaceBook page, Houston Lost and Found Pets. From there the FaceBook post was shared to the local Home Owner's Association site and the anxious family began to receive helpful phone calls.

There the story took a dark turn when the dog somehow ended up with a person who calls herself Cindy. Cindy is well known in Houston by her phone number. That number is connected today to over 30 ads selling dogs on Houston's Craig's List. It is worth stating here that most lost dogs go home. An ASPCA study showed that 93% of all lost dogs do get home as did Preston.

It is not known whether the finder thought Cindy was the owner or if she just gave Cindy the dog. Preston got loose on June 6. By June 10th, the 15 year old dog was being offered for $150 as a 4 year old dog. The ads are still online, although Preston went home last night.

Preston's owner, Jeffrey, got Cindy's number from the finder and called to ask for Preston back. Cindy hesitated and then told him she was hoping to keep the dog because her elderly Yorkie had died. This is a tactic she has been known to employ to get sympathetic people to give her dogs. She then sells the dogs on Craig's List. However, she relented and agreed to return the dog. What Jeffrey did not know was Preston was already listed for sale online. He did not believe her story but agreed it was reasonable of her to wish to keep his elderly dog. Jeffrey's cool handling of the situation is why Preston is home today.

Although she lived a couple of hours away in a bad neighborhood and he would arrive after midnight, Jeffrey was eager to retrieve Preston and agreed to meet her. He was familiar with the area, so he was cautious about leaving the car. On the way there, he got a text that did not surprise him. Cindy claimed to have spent $200 on shampoo for Preston. Jeffrey texted back, "Thank you." He had been careful to be polite in his dealings and to promise nothing.

Now it was midnight and he could see no one waiting. Calling Cindy, he was told to meet her between two parked semi-trailers parked a short distance away. It was not Jeffrey's first rodeo. He got out of the car, but called out that he was not comfortable walking over there and that Preston needed to be brought to him. Cindy came toward him and placed Preston on the ground. When Jeffrey called, Preston dashed to him. Dog safely in hand, he was again told about the hundreds of dollars spent on Preston's care and shampoo. He said, "All I have is a hundred." He handed the money to Cindy and immediately got in the car and drove away as protesting voices called out behind him. The dog flippers did not know, but a buddy sat in the car the whole time poised to dial 911.

First thing Jeffrey did when he got Preston home? Despite the hundreds that had supposedly been spent to bathe Preston, Jeffrey gave him a bath.

Dog flippers, for all the publicity, are quite rare. The Houston area clearly has a problem with one individual, but that does not mean the practice is epidemic. Far more prevalent are scammers who try to get you to pay them to find your lost dog. They call everyone who posts on Craig's List to offer to find your dog "or your money back." You are far more likely to find your dog than get your money. It bears repeating, 93 percent of all lost dogs are recovered. Following the tips below will help you find your dog.

Things to Do if Your Dog is Lost:

+ Immediately put out food, water and your dog's bed

+ Get the word out by using flyers and signs

+ Contact your local pound, animal control, rescues and vet clinics

+ Do NOT call or chase your dog. If you see your dog, sit and let the dog come to you.

+ Post flyers all over your neighborhood. Go door to door with flyers and talk to neighbors. Check the posted flyers every day to make sure they are still up. If you notice they are being taken down, put out more. Take flyers to area vets, groomers, and pet supply stores. Ask area convenience stores and fast food places if you can put flyers in their windows. Give flyers to the mail carrier, and any UPS or FedEx or delivery truck you see. Ask the schools in your area if they will put flyers on the school buses. Children are good at looking for and remembering dogs. Take flyers to hair and nail salons and ask if you can put them in the windows. Give flyers to trash pickup drivers, Newspaper delivery people, and Pizza delivery people. Put a sign in your front yard... like a garage sale sign or a for sale sign that says Lost Dog.

You will find this and other helpful tips on Lost Dogs of America.

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