The High Price of Free to Good Home
By Linda Kender
have all seen these "Free to Good Home" ads in the newspaper, posters
hung up in the supermarket, or signs along the roadway. What these
well meaning and trusting owners are offering for their pets, however,
is a potentially deadly outcome. Tragically, these unsuspecting
persons too often end up putting these "free" animals into the hands of
uncaring, unscrupulous and sometimes violent individuals.
People tend to place a higher value on what they pay for. The
very action of pulling out their wallets or their checkbooks to pay
even a nominal adoption fee seems to validate the fact that the animal
has value . For example, many years ago I found an old beagle left
abandoned on the road shortly after the end of rabbit hunting season.
By her appearance, this sad eyed but sweet and gentle dog looked to
have whelped a good many puppies in her lifetime. I took her to the
vet, had her vaccinated and spayed and tried unsuccessfully to give her
away. I then placed an ad in the newspaper listing her attributes
along with a nominal adoption fee. This time, I received calls from
people eager to adopt. She ultimately went to live with a family and
lived out the rest of her life as a beloved pet instead of an
over-the-hill hunting and breeding machine. It was the same dog, but
with a price tag she suddenly was perceived to have value.
Pets which are not perceived
to have value tend to be those which are marginally cared for, have a
much higher rate of abandonment or shelter surrender, are less likely
to be considered part of the family and are more likely to be neglected
There is no such thing as a "free" pet anyway. People
who obtain a "free" pet may not have the financial resources or desire
to spend the money necessary to properly care for the pet. Yearly
vaccinations, flea, tick and heartworm preventatives and dog food all
cost money. If the animal becomes sick or injured treatment by a
veterinarian is another expense. While an adoption fee alone does not
guarantee that the pet will properly be provided for, it does serve as
an indicator of whether or not the adopter is willing to pay money on
the pet's behalf.
Unscrupulous people may resell the animals.
I wish this was an urban legend but it is not. Some people will
supplement their income by seeking out those animals listed as "Free to
Good Home". These animals are generally friendly and able to be easily
handled. These very attributes make them marketable to research
facilities, laboratories and teaching institutions utilizing live
animals in teaching, experiments and test trials. These con artists
will appear to be personable and say all the "right" things. I have
been told of one woman operating in our community who is a registered
nurse. She responds to the ad and brings along her developmentally
disabled son. She tells the pet owner that she would love to adopt the
pet as a companion for her son. She says that she is a home owner with
a fenced yard. People can't hand their "free" pets over to her fast
enough--sometimes whole litters. She promptly sells them for a profit
and starts looking again. By requiring an adoption fee, this knocks
the profitability out of the process and people like her will look
elsewhere for their victims.
Using live animals as bait for training and/or encouraging aggression in fighting or guarding dogs.
Street fighters will often obtain "free" pets to bait or encourage
aggression in animals while at the same time feeding their own need to
witness violence. This is another case where a nominal adoption fee
may mean the difference between life and an unspeakably violent death
for the pet.
The following pointers are provided to assist you
in finding an appropriate home for your pet or stray you have rescued
should the need arise:
Include a nominal adoption fee. A fee of $65--$100 will be an acknowledgment that the animal has value.
this fee to offset the cost of adopting the pet out already spayed or
neutered. Please do not adopt any pet out which is unsterilized.
Even puppies and kittens can be safely spayed and neutered with today's
surgical techniques. Call our clinic at (561) 747-1598 Ext. 1 for
Investigate who is adopting
your pet. Call his/her veterinarian to see how previous or existing
pets are cared for. Ask questions about previous pets and their
longevity and living conditions. Do not be shy about this.
the landlord if the adopter rents. Rental housing which allows pets is
often difficult to find. Make sure that the pet is allowed by
contacting the landlord directly--do not just take the adopter's word
for it. If the animal is not allowed and is later "discovered" to be
living where prohibited, abandonment or surrender to a shelter may be
what is in store for your pet.
your phone number and let the adopter know that you are available to
assist in the transition to a new home by answering questions or
providing information about the pet. If at all possible, let the
adopter know that if the placement does not work out that the pet may
be returned to you for placement into another home.
where the pet will be living. If possible, deliver the pet yourself.
If you do not like what you see do not leave the pet.
pet's life and well being rests solely with your ability to place
him/her in a safe and humane home. Charge the adoption fee, ask the
questions and do the checking. Please do not make your pet pay the
high price of "Free to Good Home".
Article printed with permission by Linda Kender