People find their pets in quite a wide variety of ways. Some come from pet stores, some from rescue organizations, and some even just saunter up to the front door and announce that they will now be living there too. Lately I have been seeing lots of pets who have been found on Craigslist. Although the stories behind each of the animals are as varied as the animals themselves, I am starting to see a disturbing trend that potential Craigslist adopters should keep in mind. For your consideration are three cautionary tales, all actual cases that have come through my hospital in the past 6 months.

First is Daisy, a delightful Lhasa Apso. Her previous owners claimed they couldn’t keep her for some vague reason so they put her on Craigslist. The family that adopted her had looked online because they didn’t want to have to pay adoption fees at a rescue as cash was tight for them. It didn’t take too long after she came home for her adoptive family to realize that Daisy had a problem. She was urinating all over the house and often there was a large amount of blood in her urine. Just affording the veterinary visit was a stretch for Daisy’s family, and they were not happy to learn that although the gigantic stone that was in her bladder causing her problem was a very treatable condition, it was going to require surgery and it was going to cost several hundred dollars.

Next is Mojo, a sweet, friendly rat terrier. After his new owners got him home they noticed him continually straining to urinate and dribbling urine most of the time when he wasn’t straining. The exam showed that there was scar tissue constricting the end of his urethra--the tube that goes from the bladder to the outside. He was going to need a very complicated surgery to create a new opening upstream of the obstruction so that he wouldn’t die as a result of being unable to urinate when the urethra finally scarred completely closed. The surgery, which would typically need to be done by a specialist, was going to cost several thousands of dollars.

In both of these cases there is no way that the original owners could not have known that these animals had problems. They had obviously decided that they did not want to have to be responsible for the necessary medical care and that it would be a reasonable solution to deceitfully dump their pets on an unwitting adoptive family to make it their problem instead.

Lastly we have Cookie the 12 week old Yorkie puppy. She was acquired off Craigslist cheap, probably in large part because she had not received any routine medical attention. She seemed fine for the first few days, but then she started to get sick. As is the case with a large number of 12 week old puppies that have not been vaccinated, she came down with parvo. At first it seemed mild enough that we might be able to pull her through with treatment in the hospital, but as the days went by she got worse and worse. Watching that tiny little life suffer miserably and then slip away in my hands when a single vaccination at 8 weeks of age would have saved her life makes me too angry and sad for words. Now the new owner has a large veterinary bill and a dead puppy to show for her purchase from Craigslist.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people who dump animals with medical issues on rescue organizations here in town too. The difference is that those organizations have some ability to screen those pets and have their medical issues identified and often addressed. They also make sure that the pets get vaccinated and spayed or neutered. For that reason it does cost money to adopt an animal in need from one of our many rescue groups, but in the long run it is well worth it.