Taos Bark

Dogs offered for free end up in bad situations

By Trish Hernandez
For The Taos News
Posted 10/10/18

'Dogs for Free." These ads are posted on Facebook and Craigslist all the time. It seems as if they are increasing and it is alarming, very alarming. Every responsible dog owner or pet parent knows …

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Taos Bark

Dogs offered for free end up in bad situations

Posted

'Dogs for Free." These ads are posted on Facebook and Craigslist all the time. It seems as if they are increasing and it is alarming, very alarming.

Every responsible dog owner or pet parent knows that getting a dog is a lifelong commitment. From the moment you open your heart and home to a loyal dog, you're in it for the long haul, through sickness and health, ups and downs, good and bad.

Responsible dog owners make decisions with their dog in mind. We don't move to a new home without making sure their pets are welcomed in the new community. We don't spend frivolously without making sure the dog is cared for first, and, when times get tough, we'll skip a meal so that the dog still gets his.

This column has previously written about the horrors that can happen when dogs are listed as "free" and here is more researched information.

Dog fighting circles use free Facebook and Craigslist dogs as "bait dogs" for training their own dogs to fight without risking injury, or they take in free dogs and train those to be fighters as well.

Other groups of unlicensed sellers, called "bunchers," scour classifieds for free dogs, then sell them to laboratories for animal research and experimentation. And, sometimes, a free ad for rehoming a purebred, unaltered dog will result in the former family dog being picked up by a puppy mill breeder to spend the rest of her life as a caged, unloved breeding machine.

The people looking specifically for "free to a good home" dogs will go to great lengths to appear legitimately interested in providing a perfect, loving home for the dog. They present themselves as well-to-do, responsible dog lovers. They often bring children along to meet the dog and owner to avoid suspicion. They will make up elaborate stories about previous pets, a perfect home and yard, and promise to provide a loving forever home to the helpless animal.

If you must rehome your pet, there are some steps you can take to ensure he goes to a good home:

• Don't advertise "free pet."

• Spay/neuter the animal to avoid attracting backyard breeders or puppy mill operators.

• Charge at least $25 to discourage resale of pets to labs and others.

• Ask each prospective owner for his/her veterinarian's name as a reference and check it.

• Ask for identification in the form of a photo I.D. Write down the information, or scan/photocopy it if possible.

• Ask for a phone number and explain that you'd like to check on how the animal's doing. An honest person will gladly share the information with you.

• Have the person sign an "adoption" contract concerning your pet stating that they will not go to research. Having this in writing gives you legal recourse.

• Ask to visit the place where your pet will live before you release the pet to the new owner.

If a dog owner truly cares about the life and well-being of the dog being rehomed, taking the steps above to ensure he goes to a good home are worth the time and effort.

Simply put, be smart. Realize that people are often not who they want you to think they are. Be responsible and don't take the easy way out: check references, make some phone calls, try to do right by this innocent animal whose fate is in your hands.

What should you do if you find a "free to a good home" dog classified ad?

Whenever possible, contact the dog's owner and warn them of the dangers of giving away their dog for free. Not everyone will listen. So, if the ad is on the internet, contact the site owner to request that they disallow the posting of ads for free animals on their site.

Through my consistent and relentless efforts, a group on Facebook stopped allowing "For free" posts for dogs and cats.

Clear the Shelter Day is a once a year, nationwide community-driven day where animal shelters campaign to waive or severely reduce the adoption fees. Reports of thousands of animals being adopted are celebrated across the country.

Sorry folks I do not celebrate; I mourn the thousand of these animals who are practically given away and are basically "Dogs for Free Day". Why wouldn't bunchers and dog fighters take advantage of getting dogs for free? How many go to homes that are not qualified to have a pet? There are so many reasons to not celebrate this day.

For more information or if you have an animal welfare tip, contact taosbark@gmail.com or call (575) 613-3448.

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