Free To A Good Home

We’re going to talk really frankly with you about the dangerous and irresponsible practice of advertising an animal “Free To A Good Home.”

Seriously—does anyone think the “bad” homes are going to fess up to being such?

If you haven’t heard of “Puppy Doe,” take a good, long look at her before and after pictures. Before she was advertised on Craigslist “Free To A Good Home,” and after.

Puppy Doe before CLPuppy Doe

The man who starved, burned, stabbed, split her tongue, and pulled her limbs from her joints was indeed charged and prosecuted for his crime against this poor puppy. But that did not save her life. Puppy Doe’s injuries were so severe, so irreparable, that she had to be euthanized. Do you wonder how her previous owner must feel now? Do you wonder how YOU will feel if an animal you give away with so little thought ends up in the same condition as Puppy Doe. . .or worse?

The trendy thing in our area is advertising animals “Free To A Good Home” in the Bargain Finder and on the various Facebook yard sale pages. But let us ask you this: how stupid does a person have to be to hand over a living creature to a person they just met, who they don’t know from Adam’s housecat, whose home they’ve never seen, and whose ability to care for an animal is completely unknown?

bait dogDoes our frank conversation offend you? Do you think it would have offended Puppy Doe’s previous owner? Quite frankly, we don’t give a rat’s furry hind end if you are offended, as long as you hear what we’re saying. There are indeed dog fighting rings in the Southwest Virginia and nearby West Virginia areas. Offended by our picture of a very real puppy used as a bait dog? Too bad. We’re just guessing, but we figure the puppy would feel pretty offended by any human too selfish to face the tragedy that happened to her.

If you absolutely MUST rehome your pet, put some thought into it. A “rehoming fee” is no substitute for genuine effort. Investigate the person interested in taking it off your hands like you would investigate a nanny applying to sit for your children. Insist on delivering your pet to their home. Insist on references, including a veterinary reference. If it’s a young animal, a pup or a kitten, demand to know the new owner’s plans for spaying and neutering. If it’s an adult animal, it’s YOUR responsibility to make sure it’s spayed or neutered before it changes hands. ONE unspayed female dog (or cat) and ONE unneutered male dog (or cat) and their litters can produce 67,000 puppies or kittens in a six year period. It is NOT the responsibility of the person taking your pet off your hands to make sure this doesn’t happen. It’s YOUR responsibility to make sure your pet isn’t used as a bait dog, a punching bag, a ritual sacrifice, lab testing, or as an intentional or accidental breeder.

If the situation is reversed and you are looking to obtain a “Free To A Good Home” pet, you need to remember one thing: nothing is free. You may not have to purchase this animal, but if this pet has not been vetted, vaccinated, and sterilized (if over four months old,) you’re looking at a bare minimum of two to three hundred dollars in vetting. Plus, if its health and vaccination history is unknown, you could be bringing all manner of diseases into your home. Parvovirus is deadly, spreads like wildfire, can be transmitted on clothing and shoes, and can persist in the environment for up to ten years. So if your “Free To A Good Home” puppy breaks with parvo three days after you get him home, you can count on every puppy and unvaccinated dog you bring onto the property for the next ten years contracting parvovirus and possibly dying.

And by the way—typical veterinary treatment for parvo usually runs in the neighborhood of $2500.

So—to sum it up—you owe more to the animal you’re trying to “get rid of” than a thoughtless handoff in a parking lot somewhere. Do your homework on all potential new owners. And never, EVER take them at their word.

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