With apologies to Mitch Albom, I’m breaking from the regular format for a moment to mention some of the worst tropes on Craigslist: Pets. I’ve looked all over the country for worstof ads to feature here, and there are some people who seem to live simultaneously in every city and neighborhood that has a Craigslist. How else do you explain seeing these five people in every Craigslist: Pets you visit?
5. The Backyard Breeder
Excruciatingly common and totally infuriating, the backyard breeder (BYB) infests every Craigslist with “non-shedding designer puppies” for a “small rehoming fee” that turns out to be at least $400 when someone calls. In BYB language, they’re “adorable puppies, rare breed, perfect companions, reasonable rehoming!” In normal parlance, they’re “hastily bred mutts, easily located in any shelter, poorly socialized, and will cost you the equivalent of six shelter adoption fees… and that’s before the vet work the breeder didn’t bother to do.”
Particularly aggravating are the BYBs who churn out Pit Bull puppies when most Pit Bulls in shelters are already put to sleep due to overpopulation. Does this BYB really think that the type of people who want a Pit puppy but can’t or won’t go to a shelter are going to provide good homes for her “make an offer” puppies?
4. Morons on the Move
I’ve been a renter my entire adult life. I’ve rented with over a dozen rats, multiple cats, foster dogs, foster kittens, hedgehogs, turtles, you name it. Yet, somehow these typical Craigslist: Pets morons couldn’t find an apartment that would allow the family pet. They’re also usually moving tomorrow and started looking for a new home for this pet today. So, the ad is titled something like “GERMAN SHEPHERD MUST GO TODAY!!!1!!11” while the ad text blabs about what a loyal, wonderful animal this is and how it’s a great sacrifice to let her go ONLY TO A GOOD HOME.
Yep, the animal probably is loyal and wonderful. Too bad it landed in the hands of someone who couldn’t handle paying a few more bucks for a pet-friendly apartment or at least starting to look for a home when they gave 30 days notice at the last place. This moron is getting rid of a dog that’s still lactating, just because he “might” be moving.
3. The Boo-Hooer
If you’re trying to stand out from all the other Craigslist ads looking to squeeze a few bucks out of various family pets, what do you do? Write up a fantastic sob story, of course. I could do a whole post on the most common made-up sob stories from Craiglist: Pets. Maybe I will, one of these days.
Some good ones include “Painful divorce from abusive husband,” “Allergic special-needs child,” “Found this dog wandering around neglected,” and of course the classic “Must sell dog to pay child’s medical bills.” Of course, sometimes these stories are true, but it’s not hard to separate a boo-hooer from a truly desperate pet owner down on their luck. For example, a genuine person usually wants a home for their dog… a boo-hooer says they adore the pet, but they need $150 for it, non-negotiable, or else they’ll dump it at the pound.
2. The Shelter Adoption Reject
Sometimes when you see someone looking for a pet on Craigslist, you’re tempted to nudge them in the direction of the nearest shelter. Other times, you suspect they’ve already been there and gotten laughed out of the building when they explained what they wanted to adopt and why. There are the people who want outdoor cats for mousing (but promise a “great home!!!”) and the people who want unaltered male Pit Bulls, must be BIG, alpha dogs preferred, but swear they just want a pet for the kids. Then there are the families with six toddlers who just HAVE to have an 8-week-old Maltese puppy for the children to maul–oh, and because of the kids, they can’t afford an adoption fee, but they’ll happily accept a free dog that needs regular professional grooming.
And then there are the really bizarre ones… like the person who neglected their last adoptee until it died, and now wants a new one and will convince you they’re the perfect home by showing you their dog’s no-no zone.
1. The Scammer Exploiting Craigslisters Two Through Five
The only people worse than the above Craigslist: Pets assholes are those who lurk on Craigslist specifically to prey on the other assholes.
Here’s the M.O.: Post a few ads looking for “that special dog” or “my kids’ first puppy.” Make sure you include some sort of weepy reason you can’t adopt from a shelter or even pay a rehoming fee. Usually “I want to spend my money on spoiling my new companion with toys and care, not on a rehoming fee!” At least, that’s what the smarter ones do. The dumber ones are, well, more like this.
Now, once you’ve gotten a few free dogs, the cash can start rolling in. Put up ads to sell the dogs you received, with a different sob story in each one about why you can’t keep the “beloved pet” you’ve had “since she was a puppy.” Usually it’s a purebred, but the papers were lost somewhere along the line. Oh, and no pictures–you don’t want the former owner noticing you’re reselling their dog! End with something about how you heroically nursed this dog through this or that illness, or retrained it after it was horrifically abused, so to make sure the new home can provide proper care, you’ll need at least $200 for a rehoming fee. Sell ’em off to the first people who show up with the cash, and you’ve got a lucrative business model going.
And that’s the real point of this post. It’s funny and a little faith-in-humanity sapping, but it’s also a serious warning. No matter how good you are at telling when someone is lying, the scammers on Craigslist are better at telling lies. No matter how many times someone promises your pet a lifetime home, they might be a reseller. If you rehome your pet on Craigslist, it may be resold the next day to anyone willing to pony up a “rehoming fee.” That means dog fighters, research labs, people with a history of cruelty to animals, hoarders… anyone. If you rehome your pet on Craigslist, you are taking a huge risk.
If at all possible, do what it takes to keep your pet. Kid has allergies? Take the kid to a doctor and get some HEPA filters for the house. Moving? Find a pet-friendly apartment. Pet has behavior problems? Find an Animal Behaviorist. Working long hours? Find someone who works on the days you’re off and trade petsitting services. No time to walk your high-energy dog? There’s probably a dog-loving kid in the neighborhood who’ll do it for $5 a day.
The same goes for buying on Craigslist. No matter how good something sounds, you might be supporting a BYB or a reseller or an animal thief. Adopt from shelters and rescues. Don’t shop on Craigslist.