Blurring the Lines: White Hat or Black Hat?

This past Sunday I was glancing through the pet section of the Plain Dealer classifieds, and I spotted two ads where people were giving their dogs away “Free to a good home”.

Are we all on the same page here as to how dangerous that is? (I’m starting to feel like a broken record, and like I’m preaching to the choir…so I’m not going to go there again…if you are new here, there’s some links below that explain why you should never ever do that.)

I employ a certain type of advocacy for “Free Pet” ads I come across on Craigslist –emailing the advertisers with a list of specific dangers. A quarter of them don’t respond. The other three quarters usually write back that they had no idea about the dangers. That usually opens an email conversation about what other options they have. I always fully expect to get nasty emails in return, but that has never happened.

Until recently we didn’t subscribe to any newspapers, but Dalene got ambushed somewhere last week, and now we are getting the weekend PD and the Sunday Beacon.  Hooray. Like I needed another place to check for free pets. I saw the two ads last night and when I got up this morning, before I even had my coffee, I called both of them. One was for a 7-yr old puggle; “moving and he can’t come”. The other was for a 1-yr-old housebroken Kai Ken. “great dog”.

Honestly, the puggle ad should have just read “please come take my 7-year-old dog that I don’t care about and sell it to a laboratory so it can have caustic substances sprayed in its eyes and on its skin” and the Kai ken ad should have read “Got your next bait dog right here. High prey drive, good training dog.” But I pushed down my gut reaction and tucked away my sarcasm and just called to let these people know what kind of danger they were putting their pets in.

In both cases, I got voice mail. Instead of leaving a long message, I simply told each of them that I had seen their ad, and wanted them to know that by offering their pet ‘free’ they were putting the pet in serious danger. I suggested that they go online and google “Pets in Danger on Craigslist” or “No Free Puppies or Kittens” or just the name “Jeffrey Nally” if they wanted to know why.

Later, one of the advertisers returned my call – unfortunately, I missed it, and he got my voice mail. His message said that I didn’t need to call him back (he blocked his number anyway, so I didn’t know which ad was his and couldn’t) that he just wanted to tell me that “it’s none of my business” and it is “people like me who make the world a messed up place”.

I really wish I hadn’t missed that call…and that I hadn’t used the ads to pick up a pile of dog crap earlier in the day.  If I had talked to him, maybe I could have helped him find a better solution than giving his pet away free to some stranger. If he was the puggle guy, I could have recommended a senior shelter. If he was the Kai Ken guy, I could have recommended a breed rescue.

But really, let’s examine this experience for a minute, because it’s never any fun to get a nasty message from someone, and of course, this guy’s angry message pushed all of my buttons.

First, how am *I* the bad guy? I’m not the one that has decided to throw away a pet because it’s suddenly become inconvenient. I’d live under a bridge in a refrigerator box before I’d move somewhere where my five dogs couldn’t come with me. I had called with info, and he had called with insults. And…didn’t he advertise in a public newspaper? Sorry, Buddy, but I’m the public, and I’m a dog advocate who works every day to educate people about animal abuse and cruelty, and that literally makes it my business.

But I couldn’t tell him any of that because he blocked his phone number. And I kind of think that if I’d called him back he wouldn’t have let me get a word in edgewise anyway.

When the person trying to protect the innocent becomes the bad guy because an irresponsible person doesn’t want to actually *think* about what they are doing…then the world really is a messed up place.


About yelodoggie

Ariel C. Wulff is an author, artist and animal advocate. They have been involved in pet rescue for over twenty-five years. They have written two books about their true-life adventures living with an ever-changing house full of pets: Born Without a Tail, and Circling the Waggins, and a guide to animal advocacy using the Internet as a tool: How to Change the World in 30 Seconds". Wulff also wrote a pet column and book review column for the Examiner, and was a contributing editor for They attribute their love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.
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3 Responses to Blurring the Lines: White Hat or Black Hat?

  1. Trying to save all the critters in need is exhausting, but that fact never stops me from making the effort! Hang in there, Ariel, and know that you’re doing the right thing – no matter who it pisses of!


  2. Toni Parlow says:

    It is wonderful that u care when u don’t have too.


  3. Pingback: Before You Flag That Pet Ad on Craigslist | Up on the Woof

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