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Why You Should Avoid Giving Away Puppies For Free

Updated on January 20, 2011

Dogs truly are "man's best friend". For centuries they have blessed our homes with their loyal love and companionship. Unfortunately, there are times when people have to part with their furry friend. Perhaps a change in employment means that you can no longer afford to care for your dog. Or maybe you have to move into a home that isn't suitable for dogs. It's also possible that your family pooch has become pregnant by accident, and you're unable to care for the resulting puppies. There are many legitimate reasons why people need to find a new home for their pets, and there is nothing wrong with that in itself. However it is important to note that there are risks involved if you choose to give away your dog or puppies for free.

Many animal shelters, rescue groups and breeders are criticised for charging an adoption fee for their dogs and puppies. "If finding a new home for the animals is so important, why do they charge such outrageous fees?" people often ask. It is true that these organisations need to recoup some of their expenses, but charging a fee for adoptions also has a much more important purpose. Charging an adoption fee greatly increases the chances that the dog or puppy will go to a good "forever home". This is something many people don't consider, simply because they don't know the risks associated with giving away puppies for free. We examine some of the main risks below.

The Risks Of Giving Away Puppies For Free

Will Your Dog Go To A Good "Forever Home"?

A study conducted at a local animal shelter revealed that an overwhelming 92% of all owner-surrendered dogs were purchased by the owner for less than $100. Out of that number, a staggering 41% of dogs had been adopted for free through a "free to a good home" advertisement.

It is hard to say why these statistics occur. It is possible that people who cannot afford to pay for an adoption fee soon realise that they are also unable to pay for the daily costs associated with owning a dog. Or, people who could technically afford to care for the dog may feel less inclined to part with their hard-earned money for a dog that they have not financially invested in.

This has unfortunately been witnessed many times across the United States and other countries. Animal rescuers are staggered to find severely neglected animals that lack even the most basic care while being owned by financially secure families! If a person is unwilling to pay for an adoption fee, could this be an indication of things to come?

Free puppies are also the target of mentally ill people. Some people see "free to a good home" advertisements as an opportunity to "rescue" a dog or puppy in need. Animal hoarders respond to these ads out of compassion for the animal. Unfortunately, their mental illness blocks an important reality- they are simply unable to adequately care for all the animals they bring into their homes. Dogs and puppies that are "rescued" by animal hoarders quickly become victim to deplorable living conditions, disease, malnutrition and lack of socialisation.

Will giving away puppies for free be the best way to ensure they go to a good "forever home"?

Could Your Dog Be Used As A Puppy Factory Or Dog Fighting Bait?

People who run puppy mills or dog fighting rings are running a business. It is not financially viable for their business to have to pay for adoption fees, so these people typically target dogs and puppies that are given away for free. Many people feel confident that they will recognise people who are involved in these criminal activities, but this simply isn't guaranteed. People involved in these businesses are extremely savvy and will even go so far as to send a picturesque young family to come and adopt your dog on their behalf.

Dogs who get sent to puppy mills are subjected to a life of toil and loneliness. Even dogs who are not purebreds are not guaranteed against this fate. Female dogs are forced to mother litter after litter of puppies, and are rarely given the proper care they need. Once she is unable to give birth to new puppies, she is not considered useful and will likely be euthanized. Male dogs aren't much better off, also living in unsanitary conditions and in poor health until they cease to be useful.

Dogs who are adopted to dog fighting rings are faced with a terrible prospect. Dog fighting rings train their fighters to become fearless by "sicking" them on animals that are unable to defend themselves. Can you picture your dog having its mouth taped shut and thrown into a ring with an aggressive dog to be used as a training dummy?

Could Your Dog Be Sold For Research?

People called "bunchers" collect dogs from free listings to sell on for a low price to Class B Dealers. These dealers are licensed by the USDA to sell dogs collected from "random sources" on to medical and veterinary schools and testing labs.

Do you really want your dog to be used for chemical testing or practice surgeries?

Get The Facts

While these scenarios may seem extreme and highly unlikely, unfortunately animal rescue agents seen these situations all too often. Do not think that your community is safe against these threats. Fortunately, all that is required to discourage these dangerous people from adopting your dog or puppy is to charge a healthy adoption fee.

  • What if I can't charge a fee?
    If you need to re-home your dog quickly, or if your dog has behavioural or physical problems that make him/her less adoptable, there are other options. There are many animal rescue groups that will gladly take in your dog or puppy. They will offer veterinarian care if required and will even help to socialise your dog if it has behaviour issues. What's more is that they will take all the time that is needed to help your dog find a good "forever home".

  • Isn't it unfair to paint everyone with the same brush? I know plenty of decent people who adopt dogs from "free to good home" ads.
    It is true that there are many decent people out there who will provide a loving home for any animal they adopt. Charging a fee however will help to weed out the dangerous folk who do not have your dog's well-being in mind.
    After all, security cameras in shops are not installed for all the honest shoppers- they are installed to catch out the thieves.

If you know of anyone who is trying to give away their dog or puppies for free, please inform them of the dangers. Many people simply aren't aware of the possible risks involved. Spread the word!


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    • ThePepperDen profile image

      ThePepperDen 5 years ago from Australia

      @Ryo: I find it very surprising that there are shelters asking for fees for surrendering your pets. Was this a government/council run shelter? Or an upstanding charity? Or some other shelter?

      If you ever find yourself in that situation again, try asking around (such as vets, pet shows, etc) for a reputable rescue organisation.

      A GOOD shelter will never ask for money in return for a surrender. Why? Because they would rather take the animal in for free than risk the person dumping the animal or worse.

      If they're asking for money to surrender an animal, I think perhaps they have the wrong motives. Shelters should make their money from adoptions and donations.

    • profile image

      Ryo 5 years ago

      One thing that irks me however, is most of these rescue places where you go to surrender your pet that you can no longer take care of, charge you to take the pet... if you can't pay to care for the pet, how are you going to pay to GIVE AWAY the pet? This is one problem I ran into when I had too many cats on my hands and had absolutely no options available to me. Eventually they all just disappeared off the property.

    • profile image

      sonia 5 years ago

      so true. i just paid £40 for two rabbits from a rescue centre which i think was really cheap considering the fact that they're vaccinated, microchipped and feed.

    • luisj305 profile image

      luisj305 6 years ago from Florida

      Great article very informative!Ive always had to put effort into explaining these things to possible buyers when my dog would have pups.Sometimes they wouldn't understand!...

    • sines54 profile image

      sines54 6 years ago from Sin City

      Before my family got the the "family" dog we had a couple cats, the woman that sold them to us was very much on board about this. As we all like free, I understand why effectively a cost is associated to man's best friend.

    • Nick M. profile image

      Nick M. 6 years ago

      Great perspective on a topic that is all too often ignored. Thank you for writing this!

    • Charlise profile image

      Charlise 6 years ago from All Over the Place!

      This is such an important topic. Where I live in Taiwan there is much to be done in the realm of proper animal care. Thanks for some great points and reminders.

    • LoosingIt profile image

      LoosingIt 6 years ago

      Great article! One that hits home for me. I'm always trying to preach this to people. You don't know what will happen once your pet is gone. I suggest also, when possible, to do a home check and maybe even get a vet reference along with requiring a fee from a possible new owner.

    • George Huss profile image

      George Huss 6 years ago from United States

      Wow. I never thought about any of this. thanks for sharing.