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When hearing “free stuff” on the Internet, what is the first site that comes to your mind? Bet it’s Craigslist. While Craigslist and other similar sites are convenient outlets to post job openings, an available apartment or even a free couch, what they are not so good for are “free to good home” postings in the free or pets section.

As stated on Craigslist in a warning by PETA, “As you may be aware, animals given away for free can, and unfortunately often do, meet gruesome fates.”

Given the anonymity of an online platform, it is difficult to verify if the person who volunteers to take in a “free pet,” is really worthy of animal copanionship. It’s important to note that even pets with low re-homing or adoption fees requests can still be put in danger.

This is not to say that every pet given away for free online will end up in one of the following horrifying situations; some do find genuinely loving homes! The point is that the majority of people will not stand for the exploitation of animals, which spans all around the animal kingdom, from domestic pets and farm animals to marine animals and wildlife, but a select few sadly subscribe to the belief than animals exist for our use and entertainment.

If you have not already, we encourage you to learn about some of the dangers animals could face as a listed “free to good home” pet.

Used as a Bait Dog

Cold hearted people will skim the Internet looking for free dogs, typically smaller breeds, to use as bait dogs to train their dog fighting dogs, or to train free dogs, like pit bulls, to become fighters. Dog fighting is animal abuse. Dogs used to fight are neglected, beaten and often starved to make fighting dogs more aggressive, bait dogs weaker and broken. Click here to learn more about dog fighting.

Smaller Animals Used as Snake Food

Free smaller animals like rats, gerbils, mice, hamsters, small kittens and bunnies have the potential to be given to someone who will feed them to pet snakes.

Become Lab Animals

There are groups called “Bunchers” that look through the classifieds for free dogs, cats and other animals to collect then sell these poor animals to laboratories for animal testing, research and experimentation.

End Up in Puppy Mills

In some instances when a free dog or cat is a purebred and unaltered, they could be forced to breed for a puppy mill breeder. He or she will then live in deplorable conditions, caged, malnourished, and completely unloved for the rest of their lives. Please click here to learn about the horrors of puppy mills.

To Make Money

In the “free to good home” pet world, a newer trend called pet flipping is when a heartless person takes free pets only to turn around and sell them for a profit to another party. Or, a person pretends to be caring and lies about running an animal shelter. They will agree to take your pet for a small fee from you, then give false promises to find loving families through their “animal shelter.”

End Up in the Home of a Hoarder

In an animal hoarding situation, a person has the uncontrollable impulse to need more and more animals — they are like collectors of sorts. Although a hoarder may be caring toward their many animals, hoarding conditions are often unsanitary, dangerous and unhealthy for both people an animals.

Cruelty for Fun

As much as we don’t want to believe it, there are disturbed people in the world who enjoy hurting helpless animals. These types of animal abusers will search for free animals on sites like Craigslist only to take pleasure in torturing and killing these animals. If you know of or see acts of animal cruelty, report it.

In an effort to prevent these sad situations from befalling any animal, PETA states on Craigslist,”Animal protection organizations all over the United States work diligently to educate people about the proper procedure for placing animals and frequently assist people in finding good homes for their animals. We routinely contact individuals who place “free to good home” advertisements to alert them to the potential perils for their animals and continuously receive appreciative calls from people who say they never knew these dangers existed.”

While there is a certain level of checks that protect animals being given away online, it is always best to be aware of the danger that exists and ensure you avoid bringing harm to animals in any way you can.

Image source: Lindsay Wilson/Flickr