craigslist puppies?

Within the past few months, I've had a boon of clients with puppies and dogs adopted through the online networking site craigslist. People list everything on craigslist from job listings to personal ads to items for sale including the kitchen sink (literally). There is little regulation of the millions of self-published ads on the site, other than ads being removed if fraud is reported.

Some dogs from craigslist were "free to good homes" while others were purchased or include a mysterious "rehoming fee" from private individuals. Many pups younger than 8 weeks old, in critical socialization periods and have already had a least one "owner" with ads that include similar phrases such as "moving and can't keep" or "son/daughter allergic".

Surprisingly, one local animal shelter is also on the craigslist bandwagon, posting ads that either include phrases of desperation, "last day for Spot" or highlighting potentially serious behavioral issues "does not do well with children or strangers".

A part of me always got the creeps from craigslist, even before these puppies/dogs started appearing in my classes and private consultations. I'm seeing behavioral issues of one degree or another in every craigslist puppy/dog. One puppy particularly that is lacking any degree of sociability and bites without warning when touched or handled at seven weeks old.

From my perspective, a great majority of the craigslist ads raise red flags that most unsuspecting dog lovers would not pick up on. We, the dog training community, needs to ramp up our efforts to educate the public at large on adopting sound, social puppies and dogs and the importance of early socialization and training.

I'm very curious about other people's experiences with dogs coming from craigslist and suggestions on how we, as dog trainers, can help.


The idea behind the rehoming fee is to scare off people who take free puppies and do horrible things with them. I think craigslist has some warnings about that, including stories about how one guy would even take children with him to appear more "family like" to get free dogs to abuse. The chilling thought of that would make anyone think twice about placing a dog via craigslist.

There are some things I just have to block out of my mind, and this is one of them.

I have a blog:

The more disturbing trend I am seeing on Craigslist in the South Florida area is the very high 're-homing' fees that some are asking for. It seems to me to be people buying and selling dogs and puppies on line for a profit. Certainly not in the best interest of the animals themselves, and I am sure very little is done to properly socialize and/or train the dogs before they are 'adopted'.

We dog trainers are addressing the socialility issue after the horse has left the barn if you will. These owners will usually be more careful and aware with the acquisition of their NEXT dog, however they still have the sad little unsocialized puppymill puppy to deal with (that they bought to "rescue" from his dire circumstances).

I believe public service announcements on radio and TV are the answer to education. That seems to be the only way to enlighten people BEFORE they buy. Talking to the "breeders" and "rescuers" doesn't help because they have their own agenda and aren't necessarily open to information. I've noticed in my area (Dallas TX metroplex) that there is social status in being a rescuer - instead of joining a legitimate established group - these folks just find or adopt dogs on death row so they can save and rehome them. The re-homing fee around here is usually for vet expenses and part of the purchase price.

A mass media sound-bite education plan is the best way to go - who among us can forget the "this is your brain on drugs" public service announcements?

Wanda Woodworth, MA, CPDT

I have known a few people who have adopted very good and now very well loved animals,including puppies, from craigslist. I don't see what the big deal is. Many of these puppies would end up in the pound in crowded and and unloving conditions and to eventually be labeled as unadoptable and euthanized to prevent overcrowding. Isn't it better that a family who cannot keep a dog find another loving family to adopt them directly? Is it prefferable that they be abandoned on the streets or given to just anyone in front of a grocery store the way they used to be? definitely not! Listing these animals on craigslist makes the screening process simpler for those who are looking for a placement home for an animal and therefore increases the chances of finding a loving home for the animal.

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