Tracy Talks: Free is not freedom for pets
by Anne Marie Fuller
May 02, 2014 | 4413 views | 2 2 comments | 126 126 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last weekend, I had to rush my cat to the vet, and while there, I saw fliers offering dogs “free to a good home.” It’s a common practice, but those simple five words could have devastating consequences for that animal.

“Offering an animal free to a good home is not the best choice for the animal,” Animal Services Officer Lisa McDonald said. “These animals can be sold, sometimes to laboratories or sometimes for dog fighting. In some cases, the animals are re-given to other people. You just don’t know where your pet will end up or in what kind of conditions. Sometimes these animals end up on Craigslist and are sold to make money.”

I can understand a person not wanting to cause a hardship by asking for a monetary payment, but too many animals have suffered the consequences of that decision. By requiring someone to invest in the animal upfront, you may help safeguard against opportunists.

Some people will pick “owner surrender,” through the animal shelter, as a way to rehome a pet. That practice can also have grave consequences. Although you might have the perfect pet at home, if you take that dog or cat and put it in a foreign environment, it can act completely different. Think about sitting in an unfamiliar cage with intimidating dogs all around, barking almost constantly.

A couple of years back, I filmed a documentary on the local animal shelter and tracked a pair of 8-year-old dogs that were surrendered to the shelter. The dogs had been littermates and were with the same family their whole lives. Neither dog was adopted — both ended up being euthanized.

“Please use the animal shelter as the last resort,” McDonald said. “When we run out of room, we have to euthanize. Your adult pet is competing with much younger animals. Dogs also have to pass a temper test before they can be adopted by the public. Not every dog passes.”

Do: Plan well in advance to rehome your pet.

Don’t: Offer your pet free.

Don’t: Rely on the shelter to place the animal. There is a waiting period and $45 fee to owner-surrender your pet locally.

Do: Contact local animal rescue groups for help. Social media can be a helpful tool — but know the person your pet is placed with. A friend of a friend might not be a good choice.

Don’t: Rely solely on one source. You may be left with no options. Sometimes animal rescue groups can be full.

Do: Make the transition as easy as possible.

• Anne Marie Fuller is the host of “Helpful Hints with Anne Marie” on Channel 26. Contact her at

Comments-icon Post a Comment
May 03, 2014
The scare talk about dogs winding up in laboratories borders on insane. I can't say it never happens but I am sure it is exceedingly rare. In terms of likelihood of occurrence it is probably on par with a lightning bolt killing the dog while it is walking the street after an irresponsible owner abandons it. I work in the medical device industry and have participated in half a dozen or so animal labs at different labs. The animals were not random strays. They were breed for the purpose and tracked from birth to death with endless documentation. The last thing the study or lab owners want is some previously unknown medical condition in the animal screwing up a relatively expensive, time consuming study.
May 02, 2014
Is this author saying a potential "pet" may suffer "devastating consequences," as do cows and pigs and chickens in this country every day?

Why should I value the dog's life over the cow's life?

We continue to irresponsibly breed dogs for our selfish purposes--please don't make any mistake about this. Perhaps we need to revisit the notion of "pet" ownership? Perhaps the idea of "pet" ownership isn't freedom?

I could tell you many stories about supposedly free dogs in this community, but when your metaphysics about animals is about "owning" some and happily eat others, the prejudice which infects your thinking is impenetrable to a different perspective.

If a cow can end-up on your dinner plate, then a dog can end-up in a laboratory. Give me one good reason why one consequence is acceptable and the other isn't?

We encourage readers to share online comments in this forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a space for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Comments that stray from the topic of the story or are found to contain abusive language are subject to removal at the Press’ discretion, and the writer responsible will be subject to being blocked from making further comments and have their past comments deleted. Readers may report inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at