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No More FREE to Good Home Pets

white dog wearing "FREE to Good Home" sign

I saw an ad on www.freecycle.org the other day that literally made me cringe. “Puppy — Free to Good Home.” It took everything in me to not write the person who posted this and verbally blast them from here to smitherines! With all the information available on why NOT to give pets away– why, why — WHY would anyone do this? How can they not know the horrible fate they could be sending this little guy to?

PET PREDATORS LIVE for Opportunities Like This!

With all the news available on people who run puppy mills — a  free puppy or dog is their opportunity to grow their hideous business and not have to spend a penny on breeding stock to do it. What about those awful people who raise dogs for fighting? They thrive on “FREE to Good Home” ads to help fulfill their bait dog needs. Those are just two of the most basic examples of what can happen to a pet if you give it away.

With all the news articles and stories running rampant in the newspapers, the Internet and on television — I just don’t understand how any single living person could not know that giving a pet away can prove to be a death sentence or a banishment to a living hell for the precious life they so carelessly just gave away.

People Only Show You What THEY WANT YOU TO SEE

So, you put an ad in the paper to give away your dog. You get some responses and you decide from those who come to meet the intended victim that — “Oh they seem like such nice folks, surely they’ll give Fido a good home.” Heck, some people are so anxious to get Fido out from under foot that they don’t even bother to visit with Potential New Owners #2 or #3 — they just simply hand over the little guy to the first person that knocks on their door. Although they may shed a tear or two, in the back of their minds lurk the words “Well, that was easy. Problem solved!”

Little does the previous owner know that they just handed over a life who depended on them to love and protect them, to some sleaze-ball who put on a good show and in a matter of minutes was able to gain their trust that they would take over and give the pooch a good home with all the lovin’ he could possibly ask for. Pet predators are experts at getting people to trust them in order to get what they want.

The Adoptive Parent is NOT Always a Pet Preditor

I don’t want to give you the idea that every single person that responds to a free pet ad is a bad person who’s going to do horrible things to the pet. There are definitely good people out there who will respond to ads such as this and who will give the little guy a good home, free of abuse and neglect, a life filled with love, fun, proper food, housing and maybe even plenty of kids to play with. But how do you know for sure that’s the kind of person you’re entrusting your furry friend to? Answer? You don’t! I have no doubt there are more Pet Predators out there than there are good people, though.

Many years ago, I used to hand feed baby parrots for breeders. Every time I took a batch of these feathered peeps back to the breeder I felt worse. It nagged at me “What the hell am I doing?” I used to sell some of these birds that I’d raised. Every time I’d send one of them home with someone, I cried and wondered — “Are they really going to a good home or did I just get snowballed into turning over a helpless people dependent pet to some lunatic who’s going to abuse or neglect it?” Answer? I would never know for sure.

There finally came a day when I just could not live with myself any longer because the haunting was more than I could stand. I stopped feeding baby parrots for breeders. I decided that if these breeders were going to sell these birds to potentially evil homes, I was no longer going to be a part of helping them do this. Did I miss having these little babies? Sure I did, but I was better off without them totally than I was to live each day wondering.

SOMETHING GOOD TO BE SAID on Paying for Your New Pet

You all know Riley’s Place promotes rescue and adoption over purchasing pets from breeders. There are sooooo many pets that need good homes that the shelters and rescues can’t help them all. To a point pet breeders are part of the problem because they add to the pet population. No matter how well potential adopters or new owners are screened, it still comes down to the simple fact that people will only show you the side of them that makes you believe they’re good people. Whether they are or not is something you’ll never really know for sure. Some pet breeders don’t even meet the new owners, they ship their puppies all over the country and sometimes even out of the country. All they have to go on is what the new owners put on the adoption or purchase application, perhaps some emails and a few phone calls to base their decision on that they’ll adopt out or sell their pup to these people. To their credit, a careful rescue, shelter or breeder will even call the personal references and the vet the people tell them they use or will use.

Shelters and rescues normally require an adoption fee to be made before you can adopt. In some instances, the less medical attention or other care a dog may need before being adopted out, the less the adoption fee is. Some of these fees are more than reasonable and even downright cheap. Reasonable and cheap enough that Pet Predators will pay it and so they may as well be giving these pets away.

Breeders on the other hand normally charge a minimum of several hundred dollars for each pup they sell which cuts down the profit margin for those who are looking for fighting dog bait and breeder dogs for their puppy mills. Therefore, the likelihood that these insane individuals will pay the premium price of getting their stock from breeders is probably pretty close to non-existent. Responsible breeders also have a reputation to uphold. If word gets out they sold a dog into bad circumstances their reputation will go to hell and so this fact alone helps them do more to assure the dog is going to a good, safe home. Some good breeders will even do impromptu visits to check up on their pups and that to me says a lot! But you have to remember that it may not be feasible for the breeder to pull these visits on families who live a long ways away and had the dog shipped to them.

Please NO MORE FREE to Good Home Pets!

If you find you absolutely must re-home your dog, please do NOT put an ad anywhere advertising it for free. Even charging a small amount will help keep some of the dreadful people away that will only play you for a sucker or give you some sob story about how badly they want a dog but can’t afford to buy one or pay a adoption fee. If they can’t afford to purchase a dog, how can they expect to provide properly for it? If they can’t afford to feed it, why in the hell are they looking at a large breed dog that eats more than a smaller breed?


Some people decide to re-home their dog because they feel the dog has behavior problems. The majority of behavior problems do not lie with the dog but with the owners. You took this dog into your home, it’s your responsibility to exhaust all avenues including being honest with yourself about how you trained (or many times didn’t properly train!) the dog. Seek help from responsible, respectable trainers and dog behaviorists. Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not born knowing how to behave and they cannot know how to properly and safely interact with people if you don’t show them the way — and this does not mean “beating some sense into your dog”. When puppies are teething they chew — this is a temporary phase which will pass and you can help keep your belongings safe through the use of a bit of common sense and simple redirection to the things that are ok for puppy to chew on. Some dogs are wired for activity that if not properly directed can turn into a nightmare. These and other things are not the dog’s fault and most behavior problems can be corrected if you are willing to be honest with yourself and do what needs doing to help your dog learn proper behavior.

If You Absolutely HAVE to REHOME YOUR DOG

  • Get personal and vet references. Follow up on their references before you turn the dog over to the potential new owner. Sure, personal references my lie but vets have reputations too, and I would hope there are more vets out there that really care about animals than those that are in the vet care field for all the wrong reasons.
  • Don’t ever meet a person or family who responds to your ad and turn the dog over to them the same day you meet them. Meet several interested parties, spend some time with them.
  • If the potential new owners have children they have not brought with them to meet the dog, insist that there be another meeting that includes all the children. Don’t buy the “It’s a surprise for the kids.” thing. This is a dog not a new toy.
  • Watch how their children interact with the dog and how the parent(s) interact with the children.
  • Pay close attention to how your pet interacts (or maybe doesn’t want to!) with the potential adopters. Remember, our pets can sense things that we can’t even imagine! If the pet isn’t responding in a comfortable, friendly way — do not think for even one second “Oh, he’ll be ok after awhile.” Your dog is telling you something — listen to him!
  • If you feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable, if your gut is nagging at you (even just a little bit) that there just isn’t something quite right about these folks or that these people might not be the right owners for your dog — don’t turn the dog over to them!
  • Watch for slip-ups in what they say.
  • Ask lots of questions.
  • Have them complete an adoption application. Perhaps your local animal shelter or a rescue will allow you to copy theirs if you remove their credentials or at least help you formulate your own application.
  • Call the Police Department (probably their Records Department) in the potential new owners area and find out if there are any complaints involving them and their pets, potential family violence in the home or other calls to the residence that might even remotely raise the question “Do I really want these people to have my dog?”
  • Go visit their home to at least make an attempt to find out how they really live and what kind of conditions you can expect your dog may be moving into.
  • Ask them to show you where your dog will spend it’s time when they’re not at home.
  • Inquire as to what they’ll feed the dog. Don’t just take their word for it that it will be a good food — find out exactly what the dog will be fed and then research the food. Remember, there are many dog foods out there that shouldn’t even be on the shelf.
  • Make sure you know or learn to know about any dog trainer they say they may use. Some dog trainers shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a dog!


  1. Thank you for your post. I DO email the people who post their pets on freecycle. I always say “I know this is a tough decision for you to give up your pet,,,” (even though I don’t alway believe it is), and then I give them a list of rescues in the area that can help. Some have snubbed me, but others have thanked me. If we change one mind it is worth it. I encourage you to do something similar.

    • Mom says:

      Some time ago I emailed a Freecycle moderator asking them to stop this and got nowhere. I was told that they believe it’s up to the pet’s current owner to screen any potential adopters which is why they won’t put a stop to allowing this. Apparently, they have more faith in the pet’s owner than those of us who deal more closely with the problems this activity brings and know all too well that there are way to many people who do not screen before handing their pet over to some stranger off a website. We appreciate what you do, thank you!


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