Every once in a while on Facebook, one of my many dog rescue friends will suggest that I join the cause “Stop People from Selling Animals on Craigslist”. Selling pets on Craigslist is actually against that website’s Terms of Service, so this seems like a pointless exercise to me. The situation that seems far more urgent to me, is to stop people from giving away pets on Craigslist for free.
I know my last blog post was about my reaction at seeing a “Free Kittens” sign, and the dangers of offering pets for free. This post probably seems like overkill if you’ve been paying attention; but a little switch went off in my brain last week. I became so consumed by the thought that people need to be educated about this issue, that I made a commitment to myself, and I’d like to challenge you to do the same.
I’m just one person, and there are only so many hours in a day. Craigslist reaches practically every major city in the United States. I got this idea that if I went to the Cleveland Craigslist pet ads every day and skimmed every dog and cat ad, I might be able to save some animals right from my couch, armed with only my laptop and some carefully chosen words. It takes about twenty minutes a day for me to do both Akron and Cleveland. You can do the same in your city. How many times have you felt like you wanted to do something to help dogs and cats that can’t speak for themselves, but had no idea where to start?
I realize that many of these people love their pets and don’t even want to get rid of them, but are in desperate situations and feel like they have no other choice. They honestly do not know the danger they are putting their beloved pets in. (If you don’t know why it’s so dangerous, please read my article at the Cleveland Pets Examiner, or check out my previous post here on Up on the Woof. Or, read this article about animal abuser Alex Phelps.) So I composed a short letter to the person who is advertising their pet on Craigslist for free. Every evening, I skim the ads, and when I come across one that doesn’t ask a rehoming fee, (which Craigslist allows) or says outright that the animal is “free”, I send them my form letter. If the ads are about purebred dogs that need to be rehomed, I also suggest to the advertiser that they try a rescue group for their specific breed, and when possible, I give them a link to a breed rescue group to get them started.
I fully expected to get a lot of hate mail in return. I expected to hear “Mind your own business”, and “screw you”, and any number of other similar comments. Instead, much to my surprise, I began getting thank you notes from these people, because they really had no idea how their ads were endangering their animals.
If you want to take my challenge and take on the Craigslist pet ads in your city, you can download three different form letters to use and share. (or you can email me and I’ll send you a word document of my form letter that you can copy and paste.)
For Craigslist ads offering a pet for free: YourFreePet
For Craigslist ads that don’t say free, but don’t ask a re-homing fee: YourPetNoFee
For Craigslist ads offering pit bulls for free: YourPetBully