Craigslist and Your Pet

 Craigslist  pet  ads  are  annoying  me  to  no  end  lately…  I  try  and  try  to  stay  off  of  the  site  in  general,  but  I  am  drawn  to  it.

          Trying  to   put  the  emotional  stuff  aside,  here  are  some  of  the  dangers  that  can  befall  a  pet  sold  on  Craigslist. Animal Abusers,  Puppy Mill owners,  dog fighters and  “bunchers”  scan  these  free  ads  to  find  animals  that  they  are  then  able  to  use  and  abuse  for  their  own  pleasure.  Most   of  these  people  are  too  cheap  to  spend  money  on  these  animals  (because they have no value, in their eyes),  so  even  a  small  rehoming  fee  will  turn  them  off.   Merely  putting  “rehoming fee”  in  your  ad  will  scare  them  off.

              As  you  may  be  aware,  animals  given  away  for  free  can,  and  unfortunately  often  do,  meet  gruesome  fates.  They  can  end up  in  the hands  of  animal  abusers  like  Barry  Herbeck,  a  Wisconsin  man  who  was  convicted  of  torturing  and  killing  animals  he  obtained  through   “free to good home”   ads.  He  confessed  to  taking  his  kids  with  him  when   responding  to  the  ads  so  people  would  be comfortable  turning animals over to him. There are many stories like this where people will get free animals just to torture them. Most recently, is the story of “Puppy Doe”- or Kiya. She was tortured medieval style  and had to be euthanized due to her condition. 

           Then  there  are the  people known as  “bunchers”.  These  are the  ones who  obtain  animals illegally  from  random sources to  sell to  research facilities for profit. There is  proof that they  often acquire  animals by answering  “free to good home” ads.   Small animals   advertised as “free to good home” are sometimes  acquired by  individuals who  intend to use them as bait in training other animals to fight. Gerbils, hamsters, and young kittens are  often  acquired to be used as snake food.

              An   even   worse  fate  are  those  animals that end up being used as bait dogs. Yes, it happens- Even in Iowa. Bait animals are completely disposable, because they are   just going to be tortured. Bait dogs are used to train dogs in dog fighting rings. The business itself is an awful one, but the fate of these “bait animals” is more terrible than I can put in to words. So even a  $30 rehoming  fee scares these guys off. They aren’t in it for the profit that they can make off of your animal, just the profit they can get from the viciousness of their own animal.

             I wrote another article about “dog flipping”, which consists of people scanning the free pet ads so they can resell the animal at a higher price. For more information on that, click here. I urge you to click on this link and read more. 

             Animal protection  organizations  all over the United States work  diligently to educate people about the proper procedure for placing animals and frequently assist people in finding good homes for their animals. For example,  Bailing Out Benji  routinely contacts  individuals  who place “free to good home”  advertisements  and I try to educate the person on potential perils for their animals and have sometimes received replies from people who say they never knew these dangers existed.

           I  also  make  it a point to contact the owners that are selling their  unaltered  dogs. I very politely explain to them that not only is it  irresponsible to have an  unaltered  pet in this day and age, what with the pet  overpopulation,  but I take this opportunity to talk to them about puppy mills. With Iowa  being the  second worse state in the nation when it comes to  puppy mills,  why make it easy for the breeder to add new blood to their  operation? Not to mention ALL of the backyard breeders just looking to make a quick buck. If you would like more information about what to say to these types of ads, feel free to contact me at 

             If you are one of those people who HAS to get rid of their pet, then please, please PLEASE be careful. I suggest contacting your local shelter or rescue and asking if they will help you find a new home for the animal. More often than not, the rescuer will have very good advice to give you. They might even be able to list the animal on petfinder, while it stays in your home. 

If you choose to find a home for your pet yourself, follow these guidelines:

  • Advertise through friends, neighbors, and local veterinarians first. Your chances of finding a good home are increased when you check references with someone you know.
  • Ask for a vet reference: If the person can give you the name of their vet and they are in good standing with past pets– they are more than likely a good place to live. This is a very easy way to find out how quickly this family moves through animals. 
  • CONTACT THE LANDLORD!!! It is so important to make sure the person can even have a dog. More often than not, people get the animal before getting the permission. 
  • Carefully consider all the elements of the new home:Will your pet get along with small children? Is the family planning to keep the dog chained outside as a watch dog? Will the cat be kept only as a mouser? Do not be shy about asking questions. Your pet’s life and happiness may depend on it.
  • Have your pet neutered or spayed before he or she goes to the new home. This will make the animal more adoptable and help stop irresponsible breeding. At least ask the new person to do it!

Don’t   forget to “like” us on facebook! 

Just remember, if you choose the wrong home for your pet you are signing their death warrant- or worse- sending them off into a lifetime of torture and abuse.



If you have time, please go to this link and sign a petition that is directed at the Craigslist CEO

12 thoughts on “Craigslist and Your Pet

  1. As always.. another great source of information for people. So many people don’t know where to turn when having to rehome a pet for a valid reason and they think they may find a good home thru Craigslist. Taking to the shelter or otherwise means having their pet put down, (that’s the belief’s of many) and only because they are not educated on the subject. You’re doing a great job at teaching. Let’s hope the words get around to alot of people. This is surely a great start. Thanks again, Mindi..

  2. With this such a common scenario, you think you could find one, or a few dozen examples, perhaps even a few in Iowa.

  3. Good article, and the information is well worth repeating! A few friends and I saw a dog for free on Craig’s List and tried to rescue it. He was a young purebred mastiff breed (South African Boerboel), so we knew he would get a lot of interest from people who may not have his best interests at heart. Unfortunately, a convicted animal abuser got there first within a few hours after the Craig’s List ad was posted. Sadly, she euthanized the dog within 6 hours after taking possession of him. RIP, Moses. The owners were devastated when they found out, and had no idea that they turned their dog over to a convicted animal abuser.

  4. I had no idea this was going on. It is unfortunate that people feel the desire to hurt these defenseless little creatures, let alone what would possess them to do such things. I have been looking for a cat on Craigslist. About a year or so ago my cat died of old age (she was about 16 or 17 years old). I finally feel ready to get another cat, and it pains my heart to hear that people could do this.

  5. Good information, Mindi! Thanks for posting this ~ I will pass it along. Readers who want to learn more about the resale of stolen pets and “bunchers” who sell these pets to research facilities, etc., they can read Judith Reitman’s book, “Stolen for Profit.”

  6. I bought two birds from Craigslist and they were the best purchases of my life. There are some good people out there. You just have to be careful. I will not re-home any animal until I have met the person and seen where they live.

  7. our weimaraner rescue scours c’list daily for weims. it’s part of rescue! i hope every group does the same. 🙂

  8. In my area, DFW, Craigslist does not advertise or post ads for animals. I never understood the reason before. Now Im glad!

  9. This is all so true I have a dog named zoey she was a whole 6 pounds when i got her. One my friends mom’s ex boyfriend got the her off Craigslist and then never freed her and hit her all the time and to this day my wonderful baby girl is afraid of a broom when I sweep anything in my hand or long noises 😦 I am glad that I got this dog from them cause she now is 21.5 pounds and loves me more then anything she almost can’t breath every time I walk though the door weather I was gone five min or three days she barks till I pet her and give her the loving she knows she gets every time 🙂

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