The Craigslist ‘Rehoming’ Scam

I support a small nonprofit that  works to put puppy mills out of business by educating the public about pet shops, and where they get their puppies.  While the pet shops might  claim to buy only from  USDA licensed breeders, or family breeders, the  industry people claim to not understand  that the issue is that ethical hobby breeders who love their dogs do NOT sell to  third parties to resell.  The breeders who loved their dogs want to meet you in person (or have someone they know vouch for your integrity and character), and they  don’t allow third parties to act as middlemen.

More and more, we find that  municipalities are responding to the grassroots efforts of citizens to ban the sales of dogs and cats in pet shops for this reason.  The pet industry, via their lobbying group—Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council—PIJAC—has chosen to ignore this reason & instead respond that they are working with breeders to produce more genetically sound  and healthy puppies—but this begs the issue of  sellers not  screening buyers, refusing to sell to  buyers, and  not suggesting the buyer do further research.

What is coming  to take the place  of  the  retail pet stores  are  backyard breeders:    the owner of  one or two (of six or eight…) fertile bitches, and/or a stud dog, who claims to NOT be  breeders because they  don’t own 20 dogs, or don’t have a separate kennel building, or are not making a living  breeding dogs. They are not  breeding for the betterment of their breed, or to improve their line. They are breeding for fun AND profit.  They aren’t making enough to live on, but that is NOT the issue.  According to  pet registries, department of agriculture  inspectors, and  veterinarians, if you own the mother animal,the dam YOU are the breeder.  There seems to be some statistical evidence (I got this years ago from an American Humane Association report) that  most dogs in shelters do NOT come from hobby breeders breeding for the betterment of their breeds, nor were they coming, until recently, from puppy mills (I have written how some ‘rescues’ get   dogs from pounds in areas where  puppy mills dump unsold puppies).  Most dogs in shelters come from  dogs bought from some  friend, neighbor, or  jerk on the internet selling puppies.  Then the dog becomes inconvenient.  Just because you see them for sale, it does not mean they all get sold.

When the  economy in the USA started  getting bad  around 2004, and  people started losing jobs (ENRON, 9/11, and  housing costs  getting out of control), people started looking for ways to  make extra income.  Raising pets for fun and profit appealed to many.  After all, they don’t have to  directly pay the expense of housing or euthanizing surplus animals.  It’s us do-gooders who pay for that.

In the metro Chicagoland area, although we  have  shelters  and rescues paying lip service to making  Chicago a NO KILL city, we find they are not taking every adoptable (meaning healthy and with good  temperament) dog into their  programs—because  most are Pit Bulls.  What they  are doing is IMPORTING purebred and designer dogs from other states pounds and shelters, because they know there is a market for them  here.  I feel it is  disingenuous and shows a  lack of integrity to  do this—but that’s me.

In any case, these backyard breeders, who might have—in the past—sold via an ad in the paper or to local pet shops.. are now selling on the internet.  Internet sales of pets are illegal.  It is illegal to take a credit card and ship a pet  to  God-knows-where,  sight unseen.  It is a USDA unfunded mandate, and  prohibited by California law, where Craigslist physically resides.

The  people breeding  pets ‘for fun and profit’ (not to improve their bloodlines or for the betterment if their breeds) know this. They know the law is not enforced, and they know how to respond to skeptics who may ask why they are posting puppies for sale, since it is against the law. Many will say they are not breeders. They have this  one pet dog, so the law doesn’t apply to them.  Many will say they have just one puppy, and either found a job, lost a job, have to move, or the child is allergic. When asked why they don’t return the pup to the breeder, they will respond that they breeder will not take the dog back.    Possible….but more likely they don’t even have  the pup, and are partnering with an unethical backyard breeder (or puppy mill) & will get the pup  when you make an appointment to see it. My sister  was recently taken this way, although I begged her to NOT look on Craigslist for a puppy.  Does it have luxated patellas or liver shunt?  Time will tell.

Recently, among the fake rescues, which claim they ‘rescued’ an entire litter of (name your purebred or designer dogs), are the unaffiliated rescuers who network with each other.  Usually one in the  network is a bona fide , state licensed non-profit rescue.  One  ‘rescuer’ got custody of 20  older breeding dogs, mostly Yorkies, Maltese, and the various designer dog crosses, that she let her rescue network know were available for free.  People remembering how Oprah Winfrey was able to put in an order for 2 BROWN COCKER SPANIEL PUPS to a local ‘no-kill’ group (PAWS Chicago),  are gleeful.  What am I missing? The puppy mills these old dogs came from are still in business. They have NOT been shut down.  They didn’t have to pay to euthanize older dogs, or spend time  doing so;  all these old puppy mill breeders WILL need dentistry, and probably treatment for either liver shunt or luxated patellas, possibly heartworm;  the costs will be more than what any of these ‘rescuers’ would have paid for a dog from an ethical hobby breeder—who would NEVER  give even 1 dog to someone else  to ‘place’.  We warn people about puppy mill dogs, and health issues…but it’s ok if you get them for free & are rich enough to deal with their health issues?  And allow the breeders to remain in business?  I don’t think so…but  this is how it is.


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