Craigslist Pets: Ads What You’ll Find

How to reply and what to expect in response?

Concerned by the abuse of animals that Craigslist Pets posts facilitate, an Animal Legal Defense Fund supporter started responding to “pet” ads in September 2020. The supporter has responded to over 400 ads and shares his or her experiences with tips and tricks for protecting animals being traded on Craigslist Pets.

The Dodo and HuffPost have been warning people not to list unwanted pets on Craigslist for the past decade. They are vulnerable to being tortured and killed, sold as bait animals to dogfighters, or fed to snakes by laboratories. I started responding to Cleveland Craigslist pets ads in September 2020 after something compelled me. In 60 days I responded to 413 ads, an average of seven per week. Here are some things you might notice if you decide to help animals in your community by responding.

Craigslist Pets Ad that Led me to the Animal Legal Defense Fund

After two months of replies, an ad with “Willingly take all unwanted animals” was placed at the top of Cleveland Craigslist’s pet section. The ad stated, “Willing to take peoples [sic] animal that they don’t want or can’t care for.” It also showed an area in which federal agents raided dogfights and where garbage collectors found dead dogs in trash bags over the past two-years.

I spent two hours replying to each ad below it, to warn people to not reply and to be on guard for the response of the poster. After that, I reached out to numerous animal protection groups who didn’t answer. After failing to get any response, I tried emailing a few investigative reporters from news stations in the hope that they would be interested in a holiday cruelty story. They didn’t. David Crawford, co-founder and executive Director of Animal Help Now, suggested that I contact the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

I didn’t know that the Animal Legal Defense Fund had launched a campaign in order to eliminate Craigslist animal posts when I emailed them. My eyes grew wide as I read the response. I felt the nudge September 12, for a reason. I could give ammunition against Craigslist after a decade of suffering and death for animals.

What I’ve seen in Cleveland Craigslist’s Pet and Free Stuff Sections

You should also check the city’s “free stuff section” before you start responding to Craigslist pet ads. Some people are unable to find “pets” in this tab. There are a lot of black cats and kittens being posted on Craigslist before Halloween. I have also encountered:

  • Chihuahua in “free stuff” with “a messed up shoulder from its former owner”.
  • A pit bull terrier puppy of black color, 4 months old, in the “free stuff section”
  • Pit bull terriers that are “aggressive” and “have a hard time with children”
  • Pit bull terriers wanted

Even though there are nearly 3,000 pitbulls being euthanized each day in this country, pit bull terrier breeders still exist.

Cat litters are free

  • A 15-year old cat is being removed from their home after two years due to fur and allergies.
  • A pink-eyed rabbit was placed on Craigslist for one penny. Craigslist required that the user post a price

One man tried to trade his snake for guns, and then, after his advertisement was flagged, tried to trade the animal to “hunting and personal security items”.

Scorpions are considered “some of the most dangerous pets [sic]”.

It shouldn’t be necessary to Google “Are laws in Ohio?” But Craig Newmark, Craigslist founder, relies on users as his “watchdogs.”

How to reply to Craigslist Pets Ads?

Craigslist’s pet section can be shut down by you responding to ads and taking screencaps for any that don’t look right. It is easy to reply to ads by copying and pasting relevant information into an email. This will not trigger spam detectors. The subject line is the most important part of an email. I therefore send attention-grabbing headlines such as the following:

  • Dogfighters Patrol Craigslist’s Pet Section for Bait
  • Cleveland is home to more dogfighting than you think
  • A man who beheaded four dogs is sentenced to up to 28 years in prison
  • Virginia Beach Man Burns Dog Lives Gets Maximum Sentence
  • Missouri Cops say Man kept getting free cats from Craigslist and then killed them.
  • Craigslist’s “Rehoming Fees” won’t protect unwanted pets from danger

Each headline is highlighted in yellow. I then paste a sentence or my own under each headline. Take this example:

Craigslist’s “Rehoming Fees” won’t protect unwanted pets from danger

Ronald Fraser Golden proved it in 2013, when he purchased 22 kittens on Craigslist and named them. He then killed the kittens by either stomping on them or strangling their bodies.