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Dog lovers take Craigslist to task over Puppy Doe abuse

The story of Puppy Doe, a pitbull mix found beaten and abused in Quincy, Mass. has animal lovers up in arms and demanding that Craigslist stop advertising pet placements or “rehomings,” according to The Boston Herald and other reports.

A recap: Puppy Doe was found last month in a Quincy park, starving and injured in a way that authorities likened to medieval torture. She was euthanized August 31. The Animal Rescue League of Boston described the “level of abuse [as] the worst we have seen in a very long time” and offered a $5,000 reward to help find and arrest the abuser. Other organizations have added $10,000 to that total.

A Braintree, Mass. woman came forward to identify Puppy Doe as Kiya, a dog she was forced to give up by her landlord and which she placed via Craigslist. Police are still investigating that claim but in the meantime the woman is animal rights advocates are pushing Craiglist to nuke the pet placement ads. A petition pushing that agenda now has more than 40,000 signatories.

On Thursday, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster responded in his blog that shutting down pet listings would not stop animal abusers and ironically would lead to the euthanization of more pets because they could not find homes.

He wrote:

“Countless pets find good homes on CL, saved from euthanization (‘no kill’ shelters are full – 3 million healthy pets are put down yearly).

In fact, CL ‘pets’ is a primary tool shelter volunteers themselves use to find homes for dogs and cats they might otherwise have to put down.”

Craigslist has faced this kind of music before over personal ads used to sell prostitution services.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user bl0ndeeo2


Note: This story was updated September 28, 2013 to correct the characterization of the woman who said she placed the dog via Craigslist and that she was not the person who initiated the petition.

11 Responses to “Dog lovers take Craigslist to task over Puppy Doe abuse”

  1. I would rather an animal be euthanized in a shelter than abused repeatedly and left for dead. Sadly, many pet owners don’t seem to care one way or the other. Everyday I see pitbulls or mixed pitbulls being given away for free in Craigslist. It saddens me to know that many of them will end up abused and neglected, but people just don’t care.

  2. Susan Tilley Solomon

    If you really want to help dogs, stop responding to incidents only because they’re pushed in your face, and instead take a hard look at the dog show industry. I remember back in the 70’s when show dog breeding first began to produce thousands upon thousands of puppies for showing, of which no more than 1% ever went into in the show ring. Genetic problems became rampant due to the use of a very limited number of stud dogs. And by breeding for looks alone, temperaments were ruined as well. Nevertheless these show breeders charged stunningly high prices for their leftover/unwanted puppies – prices which inspired the proliferation of ‘puppy mills’ for the first time in history. Actually, there was often little difference between a puppy mill and your average show breeder facility, which according to what I saw with my own eyes, contained sick and ungroomed dogs, plus dogs with weeping eyes, sores, rashes, and injuries due to poor supervision. Before this era, most litters of pet dogs had been obtained by breeding my pet to your pet – an ideal way to get good pet dogs. Now the show industry calls this ‘back yard breeding’ and terms it a crime.. Show breeders, I am sorry to say, are the biggest liars in history, and have vilified almost every normal pet source in existence, now including Craigslist, just to keep their prices sky high.

  3. What happened to Kiya is horrible…gut-wrenching. I hope her abusers are found and punished to the full extent of the law. The research here is clear: animal abuse is linked to other violent behavior. These are not good people.

    Barb, re: your question “whether the no-kill shelters use CL to post dogs and if so how they can follow up or ck on prospective owners.” I can share my answer based on my 10 years+ experience working for humane societies and shelters of varying sizes. That answer is, it depends. These are all independent nonprofits so they differ in how they publicize their animals to the public. How they screen potential adopters also varies depending on how many resources they have. At one end, there are orgs that require a veterinary recommendation + a home check. At the other, there are those who only require the adopter pay a fee and sign a contract. The available studies don’t show a significant difference in quality of adoptions between these two approaches (measured by return rate; customer follow-up).

    I don’t think CL should be required to stop allowing people to post pets, given that they are currently the only available free listing site for many rescuers/shelters/owners. I also know that CL falls short in many areas, and not just for the non-expert who needs to place a pet. Inexperienced pet buyers/adopters are regularly duped by puppy mill breeders posing as owners who “adopt” out their puppies for high fees. These puppies come from inhumane, crowded conditions and are often unhealthy. When the puppy’s new family tries to contact the “owner”, this unscrupulous breeder is long gone, having created a new CL profile for the next puppy in the litter.

    This cruel scenario made me angry enough that I created, a free listing site for pets from ethical sources. We’re currently just testing in the San Francisco Bay Area with dogs. The initial response has been great, especially our Family2Family program for pet owners in crisis. In addition to providing the listing, as part of our free service we consult with owners about how to create a great profile for their dog, how to promote their dog in the community, and where to find best practices for screening potential new owners. In my experience, this is one of the most difficult things the owner has ever had to do. Wagaroo’s goal is to support them through it and keep the puppy/dog out of an animal shelter.

  4. As someone who has fostered MANY MANY pets. Craigslist is filled with amazing people and families – I stay in touch with 90% of them and I get photos every christmas… It isn’t the SITE that needs to be blamed. It is the OWNERS. Why would you give your family pet, someone that you love, that you have taken care of …. away for free? Why wouldn’t you go to check out the new owner’s home? To see if their last animals had a vet? To talk to the vet?

    Don’t blame the site. Many of my adopters over the years … lost their best friends and turned to craigslist in hopes of rescuing a new pet. They aren’t ALL bad people. I think the owners need to take more responsibility before handing their animals over.

  5. Now she is trying to push Craigs list to stop this. Did she think of the poor dog she put up for free? This just makes me want to vomit! So sick and tired of STUPID people and their lame excuses for giving their pets up. I realize in some cases it can’t be helped. But use your damn head first. Would you put your child up for free on Craigs list if you decided you didn’t want it anymore or were being forced to give it up. It would be a very cold day in hell I would ever give my animal up. If my landlord said I couldn’t keep it, then I would move. And from my understanding, her ex-husband wanted to take the dog when they divorced, but she wanted to be a B**** and give it away so he couldn’t have it.
    And you are right Janet. A no kill shelter or legitimate rescue is always a better option. The person adopting not only has to pay for the pet, but the person is also screened first. And you can bet they will have the name of the person adopting it.

  6. People who are giving up a pet, which is already traumatic enought for both in most cases, should never just put it out there to the general public via sites like Craigs List. They owe the pet at the very least a chance at a loving and safe new home. No-Kill shelters are the perfect place to bring them as they are very particular about who can adopt and do a lot of checking before placement with special conditions attached regarding what to do if the new owner cannot keep them as well. Craig’s list should not allow these posts and make it easy for individuals who are cruel and abusive to have access to these unsuspecting pets and owners. Poor Puppy Doe aka Kiya and all others who have ended up in the wrong hands.

    • I’ll admit I haven’t done any research on the claim of the CEO of Craigslist, but he states that no kill shelters are full.

      I had to help my mother put her dog’s puppies up for adoption on craigslist as there were no “no kill” shelters in our area. However, we did not just give up the puppies to just anyone. We arranged to meet the interested people and those that we felt comfortable with taking on a puppy, we invited to come back to spend time with the puppy until the puppy felt comfortable enough. We would then go to their homes to inspect to make sure the puppy would be happy and comfortable there. After taking down important information, we would allow overnight stays with the puppy and pick them up afterwards to make sure the puppy was safe, and for the prospective new owner would be able to handle the new addition to their family. One one occasion, we had a family that seemed like one of the puppies would be a good fit. They were a starting out family, had a nice home with a nice yard and everything, but the husband then informed us that he would be moving to a new state for a new job within the coming week. We had to tell them that they couldn’t take the puppy because we couldn’t stop by to check on how things were going.

      That’s my little story. We shouldn’t take that option away from CL, but rather educate people giving up their pet, and what steps to take.

      I for one have a dog, and even when I go away for a weekend, I made sure my dog was comfortable staying with a friend before I even left. I took steps to make sure he wouldn’t feel like I was abandoning him.

      • In my experience in mass. it seems that a lot of the dogs available for adoption are from out of state (various rescue orgs)… so it seems like the spaying and neutering education is taking hold.

        what i’d like to confirm is whether the no-kill shelters use CL to post dogs and if so how they can follow up or ck on prospective owners. I’m with you — very picky when it comes to pet care. as we should be.

      • In my experience in mass. it seems that a lot of the dogs available for adoption are from out of state (various rescue orgs)… so it seems like the spaying and neutering education is taking hold and that’s good news.

        What i’d like to confirm is whether the no-kill shelters use CL to post dogs and if so how they can follow up or ck on prospective owners. I’m with you — very picky when it comes to pet care. as we should be.