NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Pet owners who think they've found the perfect home for their animal have, in some cases, been conned by someone with much different intentions.
There's a "watchdog" in Nacogdoches attempting to get those dishonest ad responders off the sites. Nac Fosters board member Stacey Faulkner surfs the web and Facebook each day. She goes directly to online sites advertising free animals.
"You can type in free animals, free pets, free dogs, free cats," Faulkner said.
You'll find over a dozen sites in East Texas alone.
"Mama cat due in a few weeks," Faulkner said. "Gonna need good homes."
A good home is never a guarantee, particularly if your pet ends up in the wrong hands.
"Most of the times these people are what we call 'dog flippers,'" Faulkner said. "They're taking a free dog off one of these free sites and then going over to one of the pet sale sites and selling them."
Dog fighters, breeders, and research labs are among the paying customers.
"If you're gonna give your pet away for free and you have somebody wanting your pet, search their name," Faulkner said. "Type in the name and hit enter."
You'll find all the posts that person made.
"If I can match up one that was being given away for free with one they sold, I can get them banned from the free sites," Faulkner said. "Nobody likes the flippers. It's a cheap way to make money and you're doing it at the dog's expense."
Nac Fosters rescues animals, like Flower, a partially blind Aussie, from the sites. But they also use social media to find homes for animals. Only sites with strict rehoming practices are used.
"If I catch anyone who is taking pets just to resell them I will bar you for life," Faulkner said.
In addition, the adoptee has to agree to an intensive screening process. Faulkner says online regulations help, but consumer awareness is the best way to fight the scam.
There is an online petition circulating asking Craigslist to institute pet safety guidelines. Nac Foster has not signed up, but instead concentrates encouraging people to spay and neuter their pets to help reduce the number of unwanted animals.