The dangers of rehoming pets on Craigslist and free to good home

Earlier this week, I did a post – Five Minutes to Heartbreak – about how devastating it is for a pet to be dumped  at animal control. If for some reason you are not the forever home for your pet, it is truly your responsibility to find a new family for your pet. Be careful, there are dangers in rehoming pets on Craigslist and giving up or advertising a pet free to good home, if you don’t do your homework first.


If you spend much time at all on Craigslist, you’ll see lots of cats, dogs and other critters looking for a new home. While the site is good to network a couch or other items you’d like to sell, think twice about using Craigslist to market your pet. Lots of bad things can happen to pets on advertised and rehomed on Craigslist:

  • They may be used as bait animals for dog fighting.

    Gotti was sold on Craigslist and ended up in Waukegan in bad place.

    Gotti was sold on Craigslist and ended up in Waukegan in bad place.

  • People who torture and kill animals like to search the listings for new victims.
  • Other people that source animals for research facilities all use these ads to find pets.
  • A newer phenomena is pet flipping – searching free adds for pets to sell for a profit elsewhere (they often end up in one of the above categories).

Recently, Waukegan Animal Control was called in to rescue a dog that had been left tethered outside for three weeks. Gotti had not had an easy time after his original owner found him a new owner on Craigslist. The original owners rehomed him after three years in their care.

“The guy that first got him lived in Chicago and he was sent to prison,” says animal control officer Susan Elliot. “So, Gotti wound up with a cousin who lived in Waukegan in a very gang infested area. He was living tied to a fence with no shelter. Also, when I arrived there were at least 10 thugs standing around drinking. The reason I know he was sold on Craigslist he had a microchip that was registered to the original owners.”

Here’s a dog that initially had a pretty good life and was bounced around and abused after being rehomed. Gotti will soon be headed to the Black Dog All Breed Rescue (they still need a foster, if you’d like to help) and they will work find Gotti a home. Even if you do your homework, there are dangers to rehoming pets on Craigslist.

Free to good home

Some people skip rehoming pets on Craigslist and network their dogs on their own. Sometimes they use ads and posters and other time they just hand dogs over to strangers who are interested in taking in their pet. Recently, a Chicago rescue took in a dog that was about to be given away on the street and it appeared like she was about to fall into dangerous hands.

Maybe was almost given away into and unsafe situation.

Maybe was almost given away into and unsafe situation.

A 12-year-old boy was wandering through Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. His mother had told him he could no longer keep the young pup named Maybe, even though the small pittie mix had only known that family. He met up with a group of three young men. They quickly surrounded the boy and started fighting over the dog. The little boy was getting frightened, caught in the middle as the arguing grew louder, until a boyfriend of one of the founders of a local rescue heard the commotion. He confronted the men.

“They started to pick a fight with him and tell him to get lost when he stood up to them and told them “The decision is made, I’m taking her,” says Tiffany Fraley another founder of Be Fido’s Friend. “Frank just took the little boy and the dog and walked away with them to his house. Had Frank not gone over we believe these gangbangers would have taken Maybe be from the little boy and would have used her for dogfighting. They were very intent on getting this dog into their possession.”

Fraley points out that the hero to the little boy and dog – Frank – is about 6 foot tall and 240 pounds and looked intimidating to the gang members. If one of the women had approached the situation, the outcome would have been much different. She recommends getting police involved since it’s impossible to know if they have weapons and are prone to violence.

Maybe relaxes - she loves her foster home.

Maybe relaxes – she loves her foster home.

“Once to Frank’s house, Donna Paseltiner, one of BBFs founders, talked to the little boy about giving away his dog and called his mom for verification,” adds Fraley. “She was angry and uncaring and spoke to Donna defensively like she was going to get in trouble. She said I don’t want her and he (her son) better not bring that dog back home with him. It was a horrible situation for this little boy to have been in and he was losing his dog too.”

Fraley says Maybe has settled into a nice, safe foster care situation but since she’s a puppy, Maybe needs lots of training still. A family with children would be a great match for this dog. Because of what she’s been through, Maybe is a bit timid in new situations. She points out that giving up any pet for free, especially pit bulls and pit bull mixes is a chance for undesirables to obtain a pet. They are popular targets for bait dogs and dog fighting.

Her tips for rehoming pets are as follows:

  • Meet in person with potential new owners.
  • Do a reference check to see if the person is employed and may have a pet in their home.
  • Visit your pet’s new home to see what type of environment it will be and to see if the whole family is on board with the pet adoption. Check to see if the new home is safe? Will your dog have a yard or someplace to walk? What is the family interaction like?
  • If the person has a pet, talk with their veterinarian to see what type of care they provide or provided for their pet.
  • Ask for a rehoming fee to put value on your pet and to see if this person can afford a pet and is willing to do what it takes to own a pet.

People who score pets for dogfighting rings have been known to show up to pick up free pets or pets advertised on Craigslist with women and children in tow to make it look like the pet is headed to a family or good home. That is why reference and home checks are so important.

Here are two other stories that may be helpful.

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    Raining Cats and Dogs

    I am a crazy cat lady and puppy mill warrior that blogs to advocate and educate about pet issues. In American animal controls, millions of pets are abandoned each year and an estimated 4 million die just because there are not enough homes. It truly seems like it’s Raining Cats and Dogs.

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