COLUMN: ‘Free to good home’ usually ends badly

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By Sandy Kiser

Most people have good intentions when they advertise a cat or dog as “free to good home.”

They care what happens to the animal all they want to do is find a nice family that is willing to give the pet a loving, responsible home. The tragedy occurs when the animal is mistakenly put into a situation where it is neglected, abandoned, abused or even sold for lab experimentation.

Sadly, this sort of thing happens thousands of times each day across America.

What can happen to a pet that is given free to a casual, uncommitted owner?

Abandoned to the streets. This is the most likely scenario that occurs when an uncommitted owner tires of a pet. Street animals suffer every day of their short lives. The end always comes painfully, either from violent trauma or from lingering disease.

Handed over to animal control and euthanized. People who do not take their responsibilities seriously always take the easy way out.

Marginally owned. The pet will not be cared for properly and is often allowed to roam the streets.

Abused. The owner will not make the effort to properly train the animal. Often this leads to inappropriate responses from the owner and abuse of the pet when it misbehaves.

Next, we would like you to be aware that there are dishonest people who routinely obtain animals for profit by fraudulently answering “free to good home” ads. They are usually very persuasive and friendly. They know all the “right” answers to your questions because they do this sort of thing on a regular basis. Some may even bring their kids along to make you think they are a loving family.

The most important thing you can do to discourage this kind of person is to charge an adoption fee. This makes it much more difficult for them to realize a profit so they will usually not bother contacting you.

What can happen to an animal if you let one of these con artists have it?

Used to “live train” fighting dogs. The animal you expected to be a pet is used to bait a fighting dog and is literally torn to pieces.

Sold at flea markets or auctions to anybody who happens along. Most of the time these animals are neglected, kept in cramped, unsanitary conditions and often become sick and diseased.

Sold to a class-B dealer who then resells the animal to a research facility. People who practice the despicable act of rounding up strays to sell them are referred to as bunchers. At the research facility, the animal may suffer abuse and most likely will be euthanized after they are finished with it.

Used for breeding stock in a puppy mill. The living conditions in most of these establishments are deplorable. Dogs have continuous litters, one after the another.

Used as live food or bait for exotics like snakes or alligators.

Sacrificed in cult rituals. Some people find this hard to believe, but the FBI has many files documenting this kind of activity in our country.

Sandy Kiser is a volunteer with the Anderson Humane Society.