Rehoming your pet, a stray or a loved one's pet is tricky business. Thanks to social media the word is getting out....animal abusers and animal dealers posing as loving stable families collect your 'free to good home' pets and strays. Animal dealers turn around and sell the docile pets to research labs while animal abusers subject your pet to the most heinous and vile acts.
Two such recent stories stand out:
Puppy Doe had a loving home for the first few months of her life. Her owner was forced to Rehoming her. She advertised her on Craigslist and thought she had found the perfect home for her puppy. The woman that picked up puppy doe, whose real name was Kiya when she had a loving home, seemed like a good match. Sometime later the former owner sees her puppy found brutally beaten and tortured on the news. She contacts authorities and learns that her beloved puppy had been starved, repeatedly abused and tortured. There had been multiple broken bones by being pulled apart, stab wounds to her eyes, and a particularly disgusting serpent like split cut into the puppy's tongue. Her bones were calloused from repeated blows to her head, and her back seemed to have been hit with a baseball bat. Her joints were pulled apart like Medieval times. She was beaten, stabbed, burned and could not walk.
The original owner contacted authorities with the phone number of the woman she gave the puppy to, no address, just a phone number. That woman claimed to have no knowledge of the puppy and hung up on the police.
Craigslist is commonly used to find new homes for strays and pets that individuals can no longer care for. Telling people that "free to good home" ads potentially place the their pet or rescue in the hands of animal abusers falls on deaf ears.
In another Craigslist find, a young man, 19 years old, a judges son, obtains free to good home kittens from Craigslist. He is caught in a woman's public restroom torturing the kittens and about to set them on fire. He had bound the front and back legs of one together with Scotch tape and there was a lighter on the floor. There had been previous bond and tortured kittens discovered in that very park weeks earlier. Coincidence? Unlikely.
Most police and district attorneys that prosecute these abuse cases will tell you that there are no coincidences, just patterns. The common thread here is Craigslist and other media sources that promote these free to good home directories giving animal abusers and animal dealers easy access to the most needy and vulnerable among us.
Now that we know how not to re-home a pet what options are left? Rescues and no-kill shelters are typically full. County shelters kill most animals that come through their doors and sadly they do not thoroughly screen potential adopters. Sometimes animals at the county shelter simply disappear and no one knows what happened to them. Many animals adopted or stole from county shelters also end up in horrific abuse circumstances, used as bait for fighting dogs or sold to research labs.
First and foremost avoid re-homing your pet. Is not having enough time for your pet a good reason to potentially put them in harms way? This is a common reason that people give for giving up their pets. How about finding them a pet buddy? A pet for your pet, a companion and playmate.
Resist the urge to 'rescue' a stray. Many strays do find good homes on their own. We all know many people that didn't go looking for a new pet but ended up with a houseful by stumbling upon one stray after another. Yes, this also leaves strays vulnerable to animal abusers and animal dealers, but they have to catch them 1st. It's much easier to obtain their victims from the free to good home ads and steal them from shelters where the animals are all to eager to be set free from their cages. Animals have instincts that warn them of danger when they live outdoors. It's the thrill of fooling and deceiving people that animal abusers and dealers seek. The thrill of stealing an animal and not getting caught.
Ask a rescue if they will help you with a 'Direct Rehoming', which is where the rescue will source the home for you, without needing to take the cat into their care. Most rescue centres have a waiting list of cats needing to come in, so they may not have a space to accommodate your cat straight away. This can also mean less stress for the cat, as he will only have to 'move house' once.
If you can make time to volunteer with a rescue that regularly does adoptions it will help familiarize you with the screening process and prepare you for the red flags to look for when interviewing a prospective new family for your pet. The 1st person to answer your ad is not always going to be the best home. If they object to background check and references they may have something to hide. If they object to you doing a home visit before deciding to place a pet with them that might be a red flag.
If it is a loved one's pet that must be re-homed due to disability, death or homelessness of the caretaker try to share their story with people you know well and trust to provide a kind and loving home. Ask them to share the story with others that they know and trust. Social media can be used for good as well as evil.
If you would like to continue receiving the latest news and updates on animal welfare issues please click the "Subscribe" icon next to my photo above.