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Legal Animal Cruelty: Free to Good Home

Animal Bunchers

"Free to good home" has a dark and cruel underbelly many pet owners aren't aware of. We place ads in local newspapers, tack up posters in grocery stores or on telephone poles, advertise on Craig's List or post a pet's profile on Petfinder.com in hopes of finding a loving and responsible person wanting to adopt a pet. In reality, we are supplying free animals to shady and unscrupulous people called bunchers. Many times, "free to good home" is a death sentence for a pet adopted by the wrong person and for the wrong reason.

Bunchers are people who collect pets one at a time or gather them in numbers and then sell them to Class B dealers; who then sell the pets to research facilities, colleges and universities. Bunchers get animals wherever they can find them. They steal pets from yards, pick up lost pets, take outside cats, steal pets left alone in cars or pickup beds and nab pets left alone outside a store while their owner is inside. Bunchers will follow pet owners home and then break in after the owner has left and steal their pet/s. They have even stolen pets directly from the arms of the pet's owner. By the time the owner has gone to the police to report the theft; the buncher is long gone with his prize. Animal shelters and pounds are also favorite shopping places. Be wary of strangers asking questions about your pet, especially if they want to know how much you paid for him/her.

According to the American Kennel Club, 224 pets have been reported stolen this year, but the number of unreported thefts is estimated to be about two million every year. Some people steal pets for ransom, others sell stolen purebreds to unsuspecting dog lovers wanting a purebred dog. Shelters and adoption centers holding events are reporting a growing number of pets being stolen from them. Some people steal dogs and cats for themselves because they can't afford to buy one. But a sadder and more frightening truth points an ugly finger at bunchers.

Bunchers arrive at your home with their kids; posing as a happy family looking for a pet to adopt. As they walk away with your pet in hand; it's very possible you unknowingly condemned your dog or cat to an unimaginable cruel and painful death in a research lab or as a bait dog for dog fighting rings. Cats and rabbits are also used to bait dogs. Pets that haven't been spayed or neutered are sold to puppy and kitten mills. Confined inside a filthy small cage with inadequate water, food and medical care; your pet is bred continuously until they can no longer supply the mill owner with puppies or kittens. Medical care is rare for pets in mills. Why pay for vet costs when more pets can be easily obtained from bunchers? When they become useless to the mill owner; the pet is abandoned or killed.

"Free to good home" attracts people who are looking for kittens, baby rabbits and small animals for use as snake food, free pets are used in satanic rituals, especially black cats and your pet may be used for pranks and tortured for someone's entertainment.

To protect your pet from falling into the wrong hands; never give them away. Charge a small fee, at least $25.00 or $30.00. Don't be afraid to ask for references and then check them out before you release a pet to someone. Get the name of their vet and call him/her to vouch for the person. Ask for a photo ID, preferably their driver's license, and write down their name, address and license number. Make sure to get their phone number and call it to make sure it's real. Tell them you would like to visit them inside their home to see where your pet will be living before you let them take your dog or cat. To give you legal ground to stand on if you should find out you were duped and your dog or cat was sold to a research facility; have them sign and date an adoption contract that says they are not going to sell your pet to a research lab, to a Class B dealer or to a dog fighting ring. An honest person answering your "free to good home" ad should understand why you're asking for proof of who they are and asking for a small payment.

Other options to consider when you need to find your pet a new home is to talk to breed specific rescue groups if your pet is a purebred. If you purchased a purebred puppy from a responsible breeder, most breeders will take the dog back if you can no longer care for him/her. Don't be afraid to ask. Try to find a no kill shelter or a shelter with a good track record of finding homes for pets. Talk to family members, friends or a pet loving neighbor to see if they would like to adopt your pet.

Bunchers hide in the shadow of a poorly enforced and inadequate Animal Welfare Act that doesn't protect pets from legal animal cruelty. "Free to good home" ads can attract people who don't have your pet's best interest or safety in mind and bunchers are not a new threat for pets. They have been around for a long time; ready and able to supply pets to the highest bidder.

Legal Animal Cruelty: Animal Welfare Act of 1966

Animal Abuse Laws and Animal Rights

Pet Re-homing Options for Foreclosed Home Owners

Published by Linda Cole

I ve always found pets and all animals to be amazing. I will not turn my back on stray or lost pets who need a home or a helping hand. As a contributing writer for the Responsible Pet Ownership blog, I try t...  View profile