People love to hear the word “free,” although many suspect there must be a catch. With the abundant “Free to a Good Home” animal listings on the Internet, there is, indeed, a catch. Craigslist is one of the top sites for posts about job opportunities, furniture people don’t want anymore, and apartment listings. Animals are paying the price, however, when people utilize Craigslist and other sites to find their unwanted pets another home. Though progress has been made (Craigslist has information provided by PETA on their site to help bring attention to this issue), sadly, animals are still be given away with no checks in place. So, what really happens to the “Free to a Good Home” animals?
1. Animal Cruelty
Unfortunately, there are people in the world who find pleasure in hurting animals (and usually the abuse doesn’t stop with animals. Many people who hurt animals will eventually turn to hurting people). Again and again, there are horrendous stories of people getting animals from Craigslist only to end up torturing them. Recently, a man was arrested and accused of dismembering five dogs at a Reno motel, which were found through Craigslist. Another man was arrested for soliciting animal sex from Craigslist. The list goes on and on, and the point remains the same: you really don’t know who you are giving an animal to.
2. Animal Testing
There are groups called “bunchers” who search Craigslist for free animals and then sell them to laboratories for animal experimentation. According to Do Something, over 100 million animals are burned, crippled, poisoned and abused in U.S. labs every year. “Free to a Good Home” listings could be supporting an industry of needless suffering.
3. Animal Hoarding
While animal hoarders may have good intentions, animal hoarding is serious and is recognized as a psychiatric disorder. Hoarders have an impulse to obtain more and more animals without necessarily thinking of what is best for them. If the lack of welfare for the animals wasn’t enough, animal hoarding also poses a community health threat. Animal hoarding can lead to an infestation of fleas and ticks, as well as dangerous amounts of ammonia in the air.
4. Making Money
Another fate for animals given away on Craigslist face is being flipped for money. People will pose as an animal shelter on Craigslist, promising to find your furry friend a safe and happy home but in reality, they just sell the animal for profit to another party. Don’t be fooled: these people are “professionals” and will often bring a child with them when picking up the animals.
5. Dog Fighting
The dogfighting community uses Craigslist as a way to find free dogs as “bait dogs,” dogs used to train their own dogs without risking injury. There is no way around it: dogfighting is animal abuse where dogs are often neglected, beaten and even starved to make them more aggressive.
If you absolutely have to find a new home for an animal, please contact your local shelter first. Most animal shelters offer rehoming resources and will gladly assist in finding the best forever home. You can also advertise through friends, family, and your veterinarian instead of Craigslist. And remember, please always check references. If you see a “Free to a Good Home” listing on Craigslist, immediately flag the post. Always speak up when you see animal abuse!