I was driving over to my sister-in-law’s house the other night when I saw the sign.It was nailed to a telephone pole in front of a nice subdivision with an arrow directing drivers. It said “FREE KITTENS”.
I don’t know if the people who offer animals for free are ignorant of the danger they are putting the animals in, or if they just don’t care, but every time I see one of these signs along the road, I want to stop and knock on the door and spread a little education. I’ve decided that I am going to compose a flyer for this very purpose, and carry copies of it in my vehicle for moments like this. If you don’t already know why it’s a terrible idea to offer pets for free, here are some good reasons:
- People tend to value what they pay for. Pets obtained for free are less likely to be spayed or neutered (or vetted at all) by their new owners and more likely to be abused and/or discarded.
- There’s a big market in selling pets to laboratories that perform experiments on animals. “Bunchers” gather free pets until they have enough for a trip to a Class B Dealer who is licensed by the USDA to sell animals from “random sources” for research. Random sources include strays, stolen pets, seized shelter animals, animals purchased at flea markets–and pets found through “Free to good home” ads. Bunchers will sell the free animals they obtain for $25. apiece to Class B. Dealers.
- Free animals are taken to “blood” pit-bulls & other fighting dogs — to train them how to kill, and to enjoy it. This can be dogs and cats, of any size. Often, a larger dog’s muzzle will be duct-taped shut so that he can’t bite back, and the fighting dog will gain confidence in killing a dog larger than he is.
- Sometimes free puppies or kittens are “adopted” by owners of large snakes, who feed the baby animals to their reptile.
- Purebred dogs offered “free to a good home” are often “adopted” by puppy mill owners, who use the animals for “breeding stock”.
According to the Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project, [here’s what you can do to help discourage this behavior:
- DON’T advertise Free pets; DO convince others not to. Some people even take the time to phone owners of pets advertising Free to Good Home and warn them of the dangers.
- Ask your local newspapers to quit accepting, or at least actively discourage, Free To Good Home ads.
- Write letters to the editors of your local newspapers warning of the dangers of Free to Good Home. (Click here for Sample Letter to Editor.)
- If people would only spay and neuter their pets, there wouldn’t be these unwanted litters of puppies and kittens that are often advertised for free. Spay/neuter to keep from creating possible Free to Good Home situations or condemning your pet to a short, miserable life in a puppy mill.
- Charge at least $25 to discourage resale of pets to labs. (Some sources suggest charging no less than $100 for pure-bred dogs.)
- Take the time to interview every prospective owner. Ask for vet and personnel references, and check them, then visit the new home where your pet might be living!
- Report any incidence of suspected dog-fighting to police, Animal Control, and your local Humane Society. DON’T try to stop these people yourselves; there is a lot of money involved here, and you could be putting yourself and your pets at risk if you try to intervene alone.
Remember, the welfare of pets is in our hands. If you are thinking of surrendering your pet, please check out the alternatives at wonderpuppy.net to giving pets away, including tips on solving common behavior problems, moving, house breaking, new baby, allergies, pet health problems, and grooming tips. If there is no other alternative, this site lists things to consider in finding your pet a new home.