"Free pit to good home" is a potentially dangerous way to re-home a pit bull and PBRC discourages posting dogs as "free" or "price negotiable." The hope is to arm you with the scary truth so that you may make educated decisions that protect your pit bull from the broad world of dangers that await free pit bulls. Perhaps by eliminating cost you were hoping to place the dog faster -OR- you felt uncomfortable charging for something that you did not pay for. Some people offer pets for free because they have temperament flaws or undesirable behavior problems and think the new home won't argue since the pet is free. Often, people incorrectly perceive opposing "free pet" ads as an issue against specific income groups. However, the adoption donations we recommend are reimbursements for the spay/neuter surgery and vaccinations. We oppose "free pits" because in our society many people do not extend intrinsic value to animals. By charging nothing for your pit bull you are saying "he has no value- he is worthless- do what you will with him." Worse yet, through a "free pit" ad you attract the very people who are most likely to hurt your dog.
Attitude for free pets. People value what they pay for. A free pet is a disposable pet. A pet without value is easy to abandon. Giving your pit to the first person who happens by may not be a responsible, permanent or even safe place. A recent study at one animal shelter yielded the startling statistic that 51% of all owner-surrendered dogs had been purchased for less than $100; 41% of all owner-surrendered dogs had been obtained "Free to good home." (1) Furthermore, dogs with undesirable behaviors are more likely subject to cruelty, neglect and abandonment.
"Giving any pet away is misguided. People tend not to value what they don't pay for. Paying a fee for a pet shows good faith on the part of the new owner and demonstrates their willingness to properly care for the animal. Still not convinced? Then ask yourself these questions, "If a person cannot afford to pay an adoption fee for a pet, how will they be able to afford the normal expenses of proper pet care? And how will they ever afford vet bills when the pet gets sick?" (2)
Neglect. "Neglect is the failure to provide an animal with the most basic of requirements of food, water, shelter and veterinary care. By placing your pit bull without a fee you may be encouraging someone not otherwise interested in a pit bull to take him because, "Why not? It's free." That person may not be bad but rather unprepared to have a pit bull and without the resources to adequately care for him.
Intentional cruelty. "Intentional cruelty is often more shocking and usually an indicator of a serious human behavior problem. Intentional cruelty is when an individual purposely inflicts physical harm or injury on an animal." Animal abusers seek out animals that are easy to obtain and require no fees or complex questions.(3)
Bunchers. Research institutions buy dogs from both Class A and Class B animal dealers. Class B dealers are permitted to buy dogs from unlicensed sellers, known as "bunchers," PBRC actively discourages free pits because they can attract bunchers who gather pets for sale to research.
"Bunchers may cruise neighborhood streets, picking up any dogs they encounter. They may obtain unclaimed dogs from veterinary clinics by offering to find homes for them, and may answer "free to good home" ads placed by owners trying to find someone to care for dogs they can no longer keep. Often a buncher answering such an ad brings along a child, in order to create a convincing picture of a welcoming home." (4)
Dog fighters. Dog fighting is alive and well and is dependent upon secrecy and a ready supply of free or cheap pets. Perhaps you think your sweet pet pit bull would never be a fighter. However, he is still genetically inclined toward dog-dog aggression, a genetic trait that is manipulated and capitalized in "matches" for human enjoyment and entertainment (click here for breed information). Ask any animal control officer if they have picked up a pit bull injured or killed by dog fighting. While it's unknown whether those injuries were incurred in a staged match or a squabble over limited street resources one thing is certain, animal cruelty exists because there are simply too many animals. Animal cruelty is easy when another free dog is just around the bend and animal care agencies are so overwhelmed and under-supported that catching and killing takes precedence and there is no time or resources to prosecute animal abuse.
Collectors. These collectors truly believe they are "rescuing" the animals! However, collectors often suffer serious mental illness that significantly skews their perception of reality. Without fail, raids on collectors' homes unveil putrid and foul conditions that often include dead and dying animals.(5) So-called "collectors," like the woman in Michigan who recently left dozens of cats to die in her locked house, watch the newspapers for Free to Good Home animals.
Puppy mills. Failure to spay/neuter your pit bull before placing it may result in the pit bull being used at a puppy mill. "The mass breeding of dogs for the commercial pet market has resulted in numerous 'puppy mills' in which animals suffer abuse and physical stress from poor care and facilities. Adults are bred excessively and often spend their entire lives in small runs or cages.(6) Regardless of who you place the dog with, as long as that dog is intact it can still be lost or stolen and used for breeding. In the US we euthanize over 10 million dogs and cats each year. Given the prevalence of pit bulls and pit bull mixes in shelters they sadly make up a major portion of euthanized dogs.(7) Whatever excuses you might make for a pet, when re-homing a dog the spay or neuter surgery is to be completed before placement (click here for free and low-cost resources). So called "spay/neuter contracts" are difficult to enforce and fail in almost 50% of cases.(8) Even young puppies can safely undergo the procedure. (9)
Animal research, animal cruelty and pit bull fighting are such big business that participants will go to great lengths to deceive you, sometimes bringing along children or posing as rescuers. We recommend thoroughly checking out *anyone* you plan to give a pit bull. Click here for screening information. If a so-called "rescuer" approaches you be very wary. Pit bulls are so abundant that most rescuers are overwhelmed and it is unlikely that any would jump at the chance to take yours. Furthermore, good people won't mind providing vet and animal shelter references and would greatly appreciate that you spayed or neutered the pit bull first. Turn and run from anyone that offers to take the pit intact (not spayed or neutered) or is evasive or resistant about telling you:
- Where the pit bull will be kept.
- How they intend to find a home for it.
- What public or private humane organizations would serve as a
reference and it is your job to contact those references.(10)
Even in the worst possible scenario, where you cannot find a responsible adopter please know that PBRC believes that the dog is truly better off humanely euthanized in a vets office or animal control than suffering endlessly at the hands of an animal abuser, dog fighter or breeder. Please understand that each day we face the unconscionable truth that there are too many great pit bulls and not nearly enough qualified homes. We understand how much you want to help this animal and only hope that we have provided adequate research to discourage placing the pit bull "free to good home." You are in a position of tremendous responsibility and your actions will shape the rest of your pit bulls life. Click here for pit bull re-homing ideas.
PBRC thanks contributing writer, Molly Kenneth, for this article.