Any business owner needs to stay ahead of the trends, and unfortunately, that applies to trends in crime. I’ve said before in blog posts and TV interviews that we don’t carry personals because they can be used as a front for prostitution and human trafficking. We don’t carry pet sale ads, as they often trade in animals that have been bred through puppy mills—breeders who literally breed animals to death, leaving them undernourished and caged without proper exercise or loving contact. We simply won’t even take a chance at supporting criminal industries, so we don’t run the ads that market them.
Recent stories are showing that it’s not just online pet sales that can pose a threat to pets, but online pet adoptions, as well—often posted by well-meaning folks, under the heading, Free to a Good Home. Ads giving away dogs, cats, bunnies, and other animals to “good” homes may be posted by owners for a number of benign reasons, though they may lead to a life of pain and misery, and even death, for pets.
Remember the days of summers past when you’d ride down the street of your neighborhood in the back of your parent’s Pontiac or Buick, probably without a seat belt, and definitely without a car seat? You might pass a lemonade stand or a kid and his mom or dad on the corner with a cardboard box reading, “Kittens For Sale,” or, if you were really lucky, “Free Kittens.” No one thought anything of it. We survived, and for all we knew, so did our pets. But if not monitored, the reality of today’s digital marketplace can be a whole lot scarier for animals, just as it is for humans.
The SPCA reports that animal abusers troll online classified sites looking for free animals, and they know just what to say to put unsuspecting pet owners at ease. Some abusers have even brought unrelated children to meet pets and pet owners in an effort to appear nonthreatening. Small animals offered “free to a good home” or to be “rehomed,” such as rabbits and cats, have been used as live snake food. Dogs have been found used as bait to train other dogs for dogfights. And crooks or kill buyers sell these free animals to research facilities or for slaughter.
It’s not just household pets that face danger: While slaughtering horses for meat is illegal in the United States, it’s not in some other countries, such as neighboring Canada and Mexico. Kill buyers can often outbid adopters, and have taken advantage of the financial downturn to buy up horses on the cheap for transport and slaughter for meat. This poses a serious health risk to humans, as horses in the US are considered companion animals, and as such are often medically treated with drugs toxic to humans.
A pet is a member of the family. Be sure you’re financially and emotionally prepared to keep companion animals—healthily—for the duration of their lifetime. Though if you must rehome for an unavoidable reason, it’s simply not safe to give away or sell animals to strangers via online ads without conducting strict home assessments and background checks. Most folks aren’t equipped for that, so volunteers at the SPCA suggest that anyone looking to rehome a pet work through their personal networks first—friends, neighbors, coworkers, church groups, their vet’s office etc.—maybe that’s why the neighborhood “Kittens For Sale” seemed to work fine back in the day? We all knew each other!
If your personal network doesn’t yield a reliable home, a reputable rescue group or shelter with good statistics in rehoming animals can help. Doing the right thing by your pet may take a little longer, may require just a bit more time and attention, but their health and safety is in your hands, and it’s worth it. We care about your family as we do our own, and that includes your pets. That’s why we don’t run Free to a Good Home ads at Geebo, and we hope you won’t anywhere else.