*This is a 2-part post. Check back tomorrow for Part 2: Owner Surrenders
When a pet owner no longer wants their family pet, they tend to choose one of 3 options: surrender the pet to the animal shelter, turn them over to an animal rescue group, or give the pet away for free to a "good home." Today, I'd like to discuss the heartbreaking reality behind that last option.
Some surrendering families feel "too guilty" to dump their unwanted pet at the local pound. So instead, they post "Free to a Good Home" ads in the newspaper and on Craigslist.
In their minds, they see this as a better option --a "more compassionate" option-- than the risk of euthanasia at the animal shelter. But they don't realize... that this is one of the most irresponsible and reckless decisions they could ever make.
Why so? Well, the truth ain't always pretty, but here goes: Animal abusers and dog fighters scan newspaper ads, Craigslist, and other sites and publications in search of "Free to a Good Home" pets. The "free" component is key here... because these people aren't willing to pay anything for the animals, because the pets have no value.
Abusers want these animals for sadistic pleasure. Dog fighters want them for bait. So, if you're giving away your pet for free, you're putting them in immense danger... which could very well lead to a lifetime of unimaginable torture.
The most common defense I hear on this topic is: "But I'd only let them go to a 'good home.' I'd never give them to someone who would hurt them!" Well... let me explain why that's easier said than done...
First of all, evil people don't wear shirts that say, "I'm a disgusting human." They're very skilled at presenting themselves as normal, "good" people... because for them, everything hinges on their ability to do just that.
The best way to commit horrendous crimes without getting caught is to look like someone who would never commit those crimes. Have you ever watched the news and heard, "I just can't believe it! He seemed like such a nice, normal guy! He was a Deacon at our church! I never knew he was capable of something like this..."
Abusers rarely look like abusers. They look however they need to look in order to lure the victim of abuse: children, women, animals. Trust me... they know exactly what they need to say and do to get what they want. And if they want your pet, and you're willing to send that pet off for free based on nothing more than how this person looks, then you'll likely hand them over to a deranged monster in sheep's clothing.
Further, dog fighters don't always look like dog fighters. Believe me... dog fighting is a money sport. I'm talking millions of dollars. These people look like they have money, because they do have money. And in order to make that money, the fighting dogs must be trained to kill. How are they trained? By using bait dogs, cats, and rabbits... that were once your dogs, cats, and rabbits.
These bait animals are completely disposable... so dog fighters aren't willing to pay good money to obtain them. Yet-- dog fighters need that bait for training. So where do they look? "Free to a Good Home" ads. They may also scan low-fee or no-fee animal shelters... or your backyard.
Dog fighters want your free pet for bait. They need your free pet for bait. And they'll do whatever it takes to get them. So, when they contact you... they won't look like a dog fighter. They'll look very much like a "good home."
Still don't believe me? Still convinced that you could spot a "dog fighter?" Well, consider this: Many respected individuals are involved in dog fighting. Athletes, police officers, and successful businessmen and women. People of every race, every background, and every economic class are involved in this "sport."
For example, consider Michael Vick. People tend to forget that he wasn't always seen as a dog fighting criminal. Before his crimes were made public, Vick was a highly-respected athlete who was admired by millions of people around the world. Of course, now we all know differently, but ask yourself: Just how many Michael Vicks haven't been caught yet? Trust me... thousands of others --who you currently respect as "good people"-- are involved in this crime. They live in my hometown... and they live in your hometown.
Some of you may still think that "Free to a Good Home" ads are a good alternative. You may say, "Well, I got my pet from Craigslist, and I'm a good home." You may also think that you're capable of distinguishing the good homes from the bad homes. And maybe you're right...
But ask yourself: If there's even a chance that you could be wrong, is it worth the risk?? Because if you're wrong... the consequences are devastating.
Please, please, PLEASE don't give your family pet away for free to a "good home." Please don't use newspaper ads and Craigslist postings as a trustworthy alternative for pet re-homing. Trust me... it's NOT worth the risk.
If you're asking, "But what other option do I have?" Well... one option would be to work your ass off to keep your pet with your family. Most issues can be resolved with just a little effort, and honestly... you owe your pet that much. This option is the most compassionate, responsible, and promising option... the very best option if you truly love your pet.
Or... if you simply must re-home them, you could work with an animal rescue group to re-home your pet. Animal rescues have experience in screening potential families prior to pet adoption. Rescues also charge a pet adoption fee, to ensure that the pet has some value. In addition, pet adoption contracts are used to protect the future for that pet.
However, it's important to remember that most animal rescue organizations are operating at maximum capacity. So, even if they're willing to help re-home your pet, they may not have space for them. If you truly care about your pet, then you should offer to keep them in your home until the rescue can find another adopter. At the very least... you owe them that much.
*Click below to read Part 2 of this post: Owner Surrenders