In the U.S. alone, approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters each year. Of those, approximately 2.7 million animals are adopted, while roughly the same number of shelter animals are euthanized.
"We owe animals more than just a partial chance at a good life."
And Craigslist has come under fire in the past. In 2010, the site agreed to make changes after illegal activity occurred in the Adult Services section of its site. The company removed the "adult" and "erotic" sections, but these measures came a bit too late for Julissa Brisman, a masseuse acquired through a Craigslist ad, who was found dead in a Boston hotel room.
If measures aren't in place to ensure people using the site are protected, one can only imagine the plight of the animals featured on Craigslist. And the worst case scenarios for animals put up for free on the site are almost unthinkable.
What a man named Jeff Nally did is a textbook example of how horribly wrong online animal listings can go. Nally used Craigslist to obtain 29 free dogs. He then mutilated and tortured the dogs in front of his kidnapped and horrified girlfriend. In the spring of 2012, he was sentenced to up to 45 years behind bars.
A more recent case is that of Jason Brown, who was just sentenced to up to 28 years in prison after he used Craigslist to find dogs being given away. He beheaded four dogs.
Apart from these nightmarish scenarios, people have also been known to acquire free animals to act as bait in dog fights. There's also the risk that some people look for free smaller animals, like mice or rabbits, as free food for their pet snakes.
"It's pretty reckless to place a free-to-a-good-home ad without any sort of background check," Scott Heiser, staff attorney Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), told The Dodo. "That's not to say a significant amount don't turn out fine, but we owe animals more than just a partial chance at a good life."