‘Free to a Good Home’ = Death and Despair for Animals on Craigslist

If you’ve ever browsed Craigslist, you’ve likely seen ads offering animals “free to a good home” or for sale via a “re-homing” fee. These ads, commonly seen in the “pets” section of Craigslist, on Facebook community pages, or in the classified section of newspapers, have proved to be extremely dangerous—and in some cases, deadly—to animals. Although Craigslist prohibits the sale of animals on its site, it still allows animals to be given away for free or via a small “re-homing” fee.


Abusers who acquire animals on Craigslist have gone to great lengths, including taking children with them, to appear trustworthy and trick guardians into giving them their animal companions. Once you hand an animal over, the situation is out of your control, and there’s no way for you to know what may happen. These cases are proof that no matter how desperate you are, you should never resort to giving away an animal to someone you don’t know and trust.

If you have no choice but to part with your animal companions, please try to find the right home for them by thoroughly vetting potential adopters with a home inspection, background check, and more. If you’re unable to find an excellent home for your animals, take them to a reputable open-admission shelter.

Ads in Craigslist’s “pets” section are a magnet for animal abusers, as these cases illustrate:

July 2023/Chicago, Illinois: TheMessenger.com reported that authorities had arrested a man on “four counts of animal torture and two counts of aggravated” cruelty to animals for allegedly “killing at least six kittens in the past three months and buying lookalikes on Craigslist so his mother wouldn’t become suspicious.” According to the report, the suspect’s “girlfriend found videos and images on his phone of kittens being violently killed.” In a bail hearing, prosecutors reportedly alleged that the suspect had “drowned and microwaved the kittens.” His girlfriend “also told authorities [that the suspect] admitted to killing three cats in the microwave, which led them to discover a black, foul-smelling bag in the pantry with parts of ‘multiple’ kittens.” The suspect was reportedly “undergoing a week-long mental health evaluation.” No additional information was available.

December 2022/Vero Beach, Florida: WPTV.com reported that authorities had arrested a man and woman and charged them with both cruelty to animals and fraud “after a four-month investigation of a ‘puppy mill’ in deplorable and unsanitary conditions.” The pair had reportedly sold animals on Craigslist as well as other sites. According to the report, a social media post by the sheriff’s office said, “It had all the characteristics found in rescue-hoarder situations.” Two dogs were reportedly seized after they “were found living in deplorable conditions.” A spokesperson for the sheriff’s department said, “The home was full of animal waste and the animals were living in inhumane conditions.” An arraignment date was set in the case.

November 2022/Pensacola, Florida: MiamiHerald.com reported that a man had been “charged with sexual contact with an animal” after his roommate contacted authorities alleging that he had witnessed the suspect “trying to get intimate with the dog,” according to a police report. According to the witness, the dog had been purchased by the suspect through an advertisement on Craigslist. The animal was reportedly taken to animal control. No additional information was available.

October 2021/Johnson City, Tennessee: JohnsonCityPress.com reported that a cat who had been given away through a Craigslist ad had been found dead in a parking lot. The animal’s back legs had been bound and “[a] screwdriver, with what officers said appeared to be blood, was lying beside the cat.” A suspect was arrested and charged with aggravated cruelty to animals. A spokesperson for the public animal shelter reportedly said, “This is a prime example of why we tell people to not give animals away on Craigslist. Unfortunately there are people who want to harm animals and this is an easy way for them to get them.”

September 2021/Lee County, Florida: FOX4Now.com reported that authorities had charged Ashley Howard and Charles Koon with cruelty to animals after an emaciated dog was apparently turned into or found by an animal adoption group. According to a spokesperson for the group, “The organization received a tip from a previous owner who sold [the dog] on Craigslist. … She wouldn’t have been in this position if she wasn’t re-homed on Craigslist. If she wasn’t sold and given away on Craigslist.” According to the report, the dog had “landed in the home of” Howard and Koon. At the time of the report, the large-breed dog reportedly weighed just 23 pounds. No additional information was available.

August 2021/Erie, Pennsylvania: ErieNewsNow.com reported that authorities were “working on more potential charges for an Erie woman accused of hoarding more animals just months after dozens were taken from her home.” A humane society had reportedly taken in 22 animals from the residence, including guinea pigs, kittens, rabbits, and rats. According to the report, the woman “already faces 90 animal cruelty and neglect charges from May. Animal cruelty officers took 46 animals from her home then. Officials at the Humane Society also said they believe [the accused] was getting this new crop of animals from Craigslist and said it is a good reminder to always do your homework when trying to rehome an animal.” A spokesperson for the group reportedly said, “There’s numerous shelters in the area. I know sometimes we’re full, and it may be a few days before we can take [someone] in but look for a shelter because we really do our homework when we look at where we put animals.” The woman was reportedly out of jail on bond and prohibited from keeping any animals as a condition of her bond. GoErie.com reported that when authorities seized 46 animals from the woman’s custody in May, the majority of them had been found “locked two per cage around their own feces and urine, and suffered from medical conditions,” according to an investigator. The report went on to say, “The investigation stemmed from an animal cruelty complaint” in which “two people said they witnessed a woman—believed to be [the accused]—in the backyard stomping a dog in the head.” Reportedly, no one was home when officers arrived but when they knocked on the door and looked inside, they could see a number of animals in cages. The investigator said, “It was just horribly unsanitary conditions that these animals were forced to live in. Many had flea infestations, skin and ear infections, internal parasites, deformities and respiratory infections.”

July 2021/Wolfeboro, New Hampshire: LaconiaDailySun.com reported that authorities had arrested Brendan Elwell on cruelty-to-animals charges “for allegedly killing four kittens and leaving their remains near a walking path.” According to the report, Elwell allegedly admitted to authorities that “he had been killing cats. He confirmed he got them through Craigslist and he started caring for them. But then after drinking alcohol, he decided to kill them.” During an interview with a police staff sergeant, Elwell reportedly “stated there were a lot of videos and pictures on his phone detailing what he did to the cats …. He said the contents on his phone would give the staff sergeant nightmares.” The news report stated that “Elwell said he had been killing a cat per a month for about a year.” A criminal complaint reportedly stated, “The defendant, Brandon Elwell used a knife to cut up and dismember a small kitten then transported some of the remains to the public Bridge Falls Path and intentionally placed the remaining parts of the dead kitten near the path.” Elwell reportedly told someone that “he was the person who placed [dismembered animals] in the park and that he has thrown them at cars while he has driven down the road. Additionally, Mr. Elwell stated he has thrown parts of the cats in the previous owners’ yards.” According to the report, during a search of Elwell’s bedroom, “police found guns, air soft guns, knives, swords, hatchets and a hammer.” The police staff sergeant reportedly stated in an affidavit, “Many of the cutting weapons and the hammer had what appeared to be animal hair on them as well as blood.” Authorities “also found two live young kittens in a plastic container, which they brought to a humane society. Police also found an adult cat and [the police staff sergeant told Elwell’s grandmother—with whom he apparently lived—that] the police would make arrangements for [the animal], as ‘it is likely he may not be able to have access to cats while he is out on bail.’” The criminal case against Elwell was pending.

April 2021/Riverside, California: KTLA.com reported that authorities had arrested a man who allegedly tortured a dog whom he said he’d acquired through a Craigslist ad. According to the report, Angel Ramos-Corrales was arrested “on a federal charge alleging that he slit the throat of a dog and posted a video of the dying puppy on Snapchat.” At his home, police “found him with ‘fresh blood stains’ on his clothes and fresh cut wounds on his hand, according [to a U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California] news release. Officers also found the severely injured dog [named Canelo] in the home, lying on a bed, along with blood spatters in both the bedroom and bathroom.” Animal control officers “removed the ‘barely alive dog,’ the news release states. A veterinarian then had to euthanize Canelo after determining the pup had fractured bones in his head and chest, officials said.” Ramos-Corrales reportedly “told FBI agents during questioning that he bought Canelo as a small puppy from a Craigslist posting several months earlier.” The case was ongoing.

January 2021/Tulsa County, Oklahoma: FOX23.com reported that after a dog had been adopted from an animal shelter, he was “rehomed to someone else over Craigslist.” The person who acquired the dog later took him to a veterinary hospital in a garbage bag. The new owner reportedly told staff that he or she had “found a stray that had been hit and killed by a car. The clinic determined [the dog] had actually been shot in the head, and to their amazement, was still alive in the bag.” A spokesperson for an animal adoption group that had apparently agreed to pay for the treatment reportedly said that “the clinic didn’t just treat a bullet wound that went through the dog’s skull near his eye and out the bottom of his lower jaw, but they also believe the dog had injuries like [he] had been beaten.” He was expected to survive. Authorities were reportedly investigating.

November 2020/San Fernando Valley, California: KTLA.com reported that a puppy had died just days after he was purchased through an ad on Craigslist. According to the report, a “family saw an ad for a healthy white Maltese Yorkie mix [who] had all [his] shots, and so they bought the pup for around $600. But after taking him to the vet and paying a $1,200 bill, the family learned Scottie was ill and tested positive for Parvo. Just five days after arriving at their San Fernando Valley home, Scottie passed away, the family says. … Although it’s against the website’s policy to sell pets on the site, people are allowed to post pets up for adoption and some backyard breeders are placing ads charging a ‘rehoming fee.’” A spokesperson for the family said, “To anybody, just don’t buy a dog from Craigslist …. We heard about scammers but never really thought it would happen to us.” The family was reportedly suing the seller, who “denied the transaction ever took place.”

October 2020/Raleigh, North Carolina: ABC11.com reported that a puppy had to be euthanized just hours after he was purchased through an ad on Craigslist. The buyers were reportedly told by the seller that he or she “had two 8-week-old puppies left, and they were $300 each. In text messages, the seller said the pups had their first shots and were dewormed.” No records were provided, and the buyers apparently met the seller at a neutral location. According to the report, after returning home, the buyers noted that the animal was unwell. She was taken to a veterinary hospital, where it was determined that she was infested with multiple internal parasites and severely anemic. Her condition was so serious that euthanasia was determined to be the most humane course of action. The news reporter “tried call[ing] the seller and the two different numbers the [buyers] had for the seller were already disconnected.” The outlet reported that it “hears from viewers monthly who have been scammed when trying to welcome a new [animal companion] into their home.”

August 2020/Colorado Springs, Colorado: KKTV.com reported that just hours after a pit bull had been “adopted” through a Craigslist ad, the dog attacked two people and two dogs and was shot to death. The dog’s new guardian said that “[h]e was not told of any behavior issues at the time of the adoption.” The adopter was reportedly checking his mail “when he heard loud screams from down the road. He began to walk towards his home—that’s when he heard gunshots. Neighbors said the pit bull attacked two people walking by the home with their two dogs. They tried to get the dog to stop attacking—even tried tazing the dog—but nothing was working. They ultimately had to shoot the dog.” The adopter reportedly said that “he does not blame the neighbor for his actions and he would have done the same thing.”

July 2020/Brandon, Florida: ABCActionNews.com reported that a sick puppy purchased through a Craigslist ad had died. According to the report, the buyer “found the dog through a Craigslist post advertising cute black puppies ‘ready to go’ with all the shots. But [the buyer] says before they even got home, the puppy was very sick. A veterinarian diagnosed her with parvovirus and three other parasites. … Florida does have a pet lemon-law, but it’s often difficult for officials to enforce it. Still, [the buyer] hopes to track down the people that sold her the puppy. The family never had a chance to name the puppy.” No additional information was available.

 July 2020/Virginia Beach, Virginia: WAVY.com reported that authorities were looking for a family that had reportedly acquired a dog via a Craigslist ad. According to the report, “Animal control officers say two weeks ago, the dog got away from [his or her] owner. Someone found the dog in Virginia Beach and re-homed [him or her] through Craigslist under ‘false pretenses,’ animal control said. Animal control says the first family that took in the dog didn’t think [the animal] fit in well with their family, so the dog was rehomed again to a second family. They’re now trying to track down that family to get the dog back to the original owner.” The dog had reportedly been handed over in a mall parking lot with no questions asked or information shared.

July 2020/Kokomo, Indiana: IdahoStatesman.com reported that federal authorities “had arrested 19-year-old Krystal Scott, of Kokomo, Indiana, on two felony charges of making and distributing animal crush videos. Animal crushing is a form of abuse that has sometimes been filmed and posted online as pornography for individuals with a ‘crushing fetish.’ … According to the news release, Scott ‘began posting images and videos over various social media platforms, that depicted Scott torturing and graphically killing cats and dogs by hanging, skinning and other means’ … Officials said they believe Scott obtained the animals she allegedly tortured ‘by responding to online ads [including those posted on Craigslist] from individuals who were seeking to give away their unwanted pets for adoption.’ … ‘During the search, the FBI recovered numerous animal parts and skulls that were consistent with the size of cats and dogs,’ the news release said. ‘Agents also discovered approximately three live dogs, 12 live cats and several lizards.’” A spokesperson for the Idaho Humane Society reportedly said that the facility charges fees to accept animals from owners who can’t—or won’t—care for them. An increasing number of people are also hesitant to take animals to shelters because of “no-kill” rhetoric and propaganda that puts them in a bad light. FOX59.com reported that authorities had received information from tipsters, including “an advertisement on Facebook of a person trying to find a home for a gray kitten, a pregnant Siamese cat and a black kitten ‘instead of taking them to a shelter.’ The cats were allegedly taken in by a Facebook user named ‘Sam’ or ‘Sammy’ and were delivered around June 18 to a residence in West Kokomo. The person delivering the cats was interviewed by the FBI and provided a description of a female later identified as Scott.” Scott apparently later posted in a private chat on an Instagram account, “‘I’ll be killing a pregnant Siamese and a kitten later on today,’ and, ‘I’ll be dispatching two cats so I’ll be posting the videos,’ as well as pictures of a gray kitten, a black kitten and a Siamese cat inside a black wire cage. Around the same time images of a kitten hanged from a ligature, later seen on the ground in a different image, and followed by a video of what appears to be the same kitten hanging again from the ligature and the comment, ‘Little (expletive) was still alive so rehanged it.’” Scott was reportedly “charged with two counts of making and distributing animal crush videos. If convicted, [she] could face up to seven years imprisonment, three years of supervised release and a maximum fine of $250,000.”

January 2020/Des Moines, Iowa: WHOTV.com reported that the day after Yelena Barr was arrested and released for severely beating a dog in her custody, she purchased another dog, who had been advertised on Craigslist. Her arrest reportedly came after an animal control officer responding to a complaint “witnessed Barr hitting a small white dog, named Toby, in the head after she claimed [he] bit her on the face. The officer told her to stop but Barr said she would not and carried the dog to her apartment and threw [him] inside. She kept repeating to the officer that she was upset because the dog bit her in the face and then asked the officer to take the dog.” Toby was taken to an animal shelter, where a spokesperson reportedly said that “witnesses had reached out to them about the abuse saying they’d seen the dog ‘crying out in pain as the woman repeatedly hit him, choked him, threw him, and stomped on him.’ … The injuries to Toby were extensive, with major bruising on the head and areas that had been punctured.” Evidence was also found of older injuries that could reportedly “no longer be healed and will affect how [the dog] walks for the rest of his life,” according to the spokesperson. The dog Barr purchased via Craigslist after her arrest was reportedly removed from her custody.

July 2019/Escondido, California: NBCSanDiego.com reported that authorities had arrested Joshua Boyer on multiple felony counts of cruelty to animals in connection with the alleged torture and killing of cats apparently acquired via Craigslist and animal adoption groups. The arrest reportedly “came a month-and-a-half after several cat carcasses and more chained live cats were found during three searches of his home.” The news story went on to say the following:

Ten deceased cats were found near a locked shed on the property. Boyer was the only one with access to it and told his family to stay away from it, prosecutors said. Inside the shed were firearms, a crossbow with arrows, bats and knives. Several of the weapons had blood or fur on them when they were discovered by investigators. Prosecutors said some of the dead cats had their legs zip-tied to cages, some had metal BB’s and bullet fragments in them, and some were burned. All but one had an empty stomach. Boyer allegedly adopted the cats from Craigslist ads and even took two home from the San Diego Humane Society. Prosecutors said one of the cats he got from the shelter was found dead on the property.

The investigation began after a cat named Leonard, who was allowed to roam outdoors without supervision, went missing. A GPS tracker on his collar led investigators to the property. Leonard was reportedly not found at the property and was believed to be dead. Boyer was facing 11 counts of cruelty to animals.

May 2019/St. Charles County, Missouri: STLToday.com reported that Kaine A. Louzader was facing felony charges of cruelty to animals after he allegedly “killed at least 12 cats.” The news source said that according to the prosecuting attorney, “He got the cats and kittens from people who were offering them for sale or for free on Craigslist.” The report also said that according to a county police sergeant, “Louzader admitted scouring Craigslist ads for cats or kittens. He took the felines home, where he stomped on their heads or strangled them in a bathtub or on the patio. After killing the cats, Louzader would dismember some, cutting off their heads or limbs … and then dump them on the streets near his house.” When asked about scratches on his arms, hands, and fingers, he “initially claimed that an elderly woman at the hospital where he worked had scratched him … but the scratches did not appear human.” The report stated that according to the sergeant, “Louzader later admitted that the scratches were from the last cat he killed.” He was “being held in jail on $50,000 bond.” Update: According to public records, Louzader pleaded guilty to two counts of cruelty to animals and was sentenced to four years in prison. He was to begin serving the sentence on June 2, 2020.

May 2019/Las Vegas, Nevada: News3LV.com reported that three family members were facing criminal charges after they allegedly responded to internet advertisements to acquire animals who were then resold for profit. They were reportedly facing “14 counts, including conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary, and cruelty to animals. According to the complaint, the three would allegedly pose as the owners of lost dogs, or take dogs from owners looking to rehome their pets, promising to find them a permanent home.” Prosecutors allege that they would then sell the animals for profit. According to the news report, “They also face charges for neglecting two dogs, one [who] prosecutors say suffered from untreated infections, malnourishment and inappropriate living conditions.”

April 2018/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: WPXI.com reported that authorities had charged a man with more than 100 counts of felony cruelty to animals after finding more than 50 dead animals at his home. The animals included 33 chickens, 18 ducks, and five rabbits found dead on a porch and in garbage bags in the yard. Many of them had apparently starved to death. According to the news report, the suspect told authorities that he’d acquired them “from people giving them away for free on Craigslist.”

November 2017/Hollywood, Florida: Heavy.com reported that authorities had charged a man with aggravated cruelty to animals after a pit bull was found badly injured, crying, and stuffed inside a suitcase dumped in an alley. The dog, Ollie, had been beaten and had sustained more than 50 stab wounds to his body and head. He was taken to a veterinary hospital but died shortly thereafter. Authorities “found multiple dead animals, including several rats with body parts removed, as well as cat paws” during a search of the suspect’s home. He had allegedly been looking at Craigslist ads “trying to find cats or kittens to kill as sacrifices.” A woman said that she gave him two kittens she had apparently advertised on the site, and she called police when he contacted her a few days later requesting more.

November 2017/Alamogordo, New Mexico: CNN.com reported that the man responsible for a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in which he killed 26 people, had told a friend that he’d acquired dogs through Craigslist ads and killed them for “target practice.”

September 2017/Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: DelcoTimes.com reported that a woman who had been convicted of cruelty to animals after cutting off a puppy’s ears with scissors was back in custody after violating the conditions of her probation, which included an order “not to own any animals or have contact with animals.” A probation officer reported that she’d received information that the woman had purchased a guinea pig from a pet store and tried to obtain several dogs through ads on Craigslist. She had succeeded in acquiring at least one dog, whom she claimed to have given away. Several other animals she’d acquired couldn’t be accounted for. A later report revealed that she’d been released again on probation with strict conditions, including that she “not own any animals or even have contact with animals whatsoever.”

July 2017/Watsonville, California: Register-Pajaronian.com reported that a man had been arrested and charged with felony cruelty to animals after a neighbor videotaped him abusing a dog. An investigation apparently revealed that the pup had been acquired free of charge through an ad on Craigslist. The animal was seized and taken to a shelter for medical treatment. No additional details were available.

May 2017/Lewiston, Maine: SunJournal.com reported that a couple had pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals after authorities seized 64 animals from their apartment. They also agreed to a lifetime ban on possessing animals, “except for one dog and some aquatic animals.” One of the defendants said that she’d acquired some of the animals through ads on Craigslist. Animals seized by authorities included 25 cats, four dogs, and an unspecified number of pigeons, turtles, snakes, chinchillas, and lizards. Some required immediate medical treatment, and one dog was found dead.

April 2017/Adams County, Colorado: TheDenverChannel.com reported that a man had been arrested for violating parole in a cruelty-to-animals case in which he’d been convicted of beating a cat to death with a hammer. During an interrogation, he’d admitted to acquiring cats through Craigslist ads and reportedly said, “If you look on Craigslist, there’s so many people selling cats.” After he was paroled, a woman said that he responded to an ad that she’d placed on the site to find a new home for her cat. She met him at a coffee shop and handed the cat over to the suspect, who she said “seemed like a really awesome guy, like someone I would have been friends with in college.” He then stopped responding to her calls. In a later report, another woman said that her ex-boyfriend had given two cats to the suspect after he responded to an ad placed on Craigslist. The ex-boyfriend told her that “he seemed really nice and the cats were for his daughter.” Authorities contacted the ex-boyfriend after the suspect was back in custody. According to the woman, her ex-boyfriend said that “the person I gave them to was a sick person …. There [were] photos of them bloodied in the backseat of the car still alive.” The suspect told authorities that he’d killed at least eight cats.

November 2016/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Post-Gazette.com reported that authorities had seized more than 180 animals, including 150 birds (one of whom was dead), 14 ferrets (one of whom was ill), 10 cats, seven dogs, two geckos, a turtle, a bearded dragon, and a guinea pig from two women, one of whom said that she’d acquired them through Craigslist ads. Conditions in the home were described as “beyond deplorable,” and animals were described as “neglected.” “The stench of animal waste and animal urine [was] overwhelming,” according to a first responder. Ammonia levels in the home were deemed unsafe for humans. The women faced cruelty-to-animals charges as well as a charge of endangering the welfare of a child, a 12-year-old boy who was also living in the home.

November 2016/Provo, Utah: Good4Utah.com reported that a man had been arrested and charged with three counts of felony cruelty to animals in connection with the torture and killing of as many as 11 cats. Authorities said that he had been acquiring kittens through online classified ads. One kitten was found apparently set on fire and burning in a gutter. (DeseretNews.com reported that the animal was found alive but had to be euthanized.) Neighbors said that they had recently found “desecrated [cat] carcasses” around the neighborhood. A cat was discovered beaten to death, and another reportedly had a rope around his or her neck. Blood spatter was found in the suspect’s car, and a photo of a tortured cat was discovered on his phone.

September 2016/St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada: NiagaraThisWeek.com reported that three cats who had been given away for free via online ads were tortured and killed by their new owner. He allegedly strangled and punched them, struck one with a mallet, broke the legs of one, and stabbed another in the eye with a knife. He was convicted on a number of cruelty-to-animals charges, resulting in a 12-year ban on animal ownership, a six-month jail sentence, a fine, and an order to provide a DNA sample.

August 2016/Dover, Delaware: NJ.com reported that a convicted animal abuser had acquired at least five cats via Craigslist ads over a period of 10 months and that he couldn’t account for any of them. In 2008, he had been sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of torturing and killing 19 kittens and cats he had “adopted” through newspaper ads. In that case, he admitted to horrific acts of cruelty: “He said he broke their bones. Stomped on them. Threw them against a wall. Let them suffer for minutes or hours. Then he drowned them, the kittens in the toilet, the larger cats in the bathtub.” A later report revealed that the Delaware Attorney General’s Office had launched an investigation into what had happened to the cats he had acquired since his release from prison.

August 2016/Macon, Georgia: MiamiHerald.com reported that a woman had “adopted” a potbellied pig via a Craigslist ad, apparently intending to kill and eat the animal. She reportedly asked two neighbors to do the killing while she went to purchase a freezer. They shot the animal twice in the side, causing injury. A witness said that the pig was squealing and trying to run away from a man with a rifle and that a pickax was lodged in the back of the screaming animal, who—hours later—was then beaten in the face with poles. Finally, a witness called authorities. A responding officer killed the badly injured animal with two shots to the head. A man identified as one of the people seen beating and shooting the pig was arrested and charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, according to the local sheriff’s office.

November 2015/Fargo, North Dakota: ValleyNewsLive.com reported that a woman had sold her dog through a Craigslist ad to a family that never paid and told her days later that the dog had died after she was hit by a car. The seller said, “Bella is paying for our mistake, I’m sorry, and I don’t want anyone else to have … to go through that.” She contacted the sheriff’s department but was told that it wasn’t a criminal matter.

October 2015/Loxahatchee, Florida: Local10.com reported that the operator of an illegal slaughterhouse tortured and killed horses purchased through Craigslist ads. Investigators witnessed and videotaped the owner and employees of the facility “selling large amounts of horse meat, violently stabbing pigs in the heart and boiling them alive, slitting throats of goats and rams before hoisting them by their hind legs then skinning them alive, and brutally stomping on ducks, slitting their throats and drowning them in their own blood.” Two men were arrested and faced multiple criminal charges, including “causing cruel death to conservation animals” and “torment, deprivation, mutilation or killing of conservation animals.”

August 2015/Virginia Beach, Virginia: PilotOnline.com reported that a dog who had been given away free of charge on Craigslist was found dead after being tied up and burned alive. A veterinarian who performed a necropsy on the dog’s body reported that the animal, found in a wooded area, had her four feet tied together and was muzzled before someone apparently poured a flammable liquid down her back and set her on fire. The man who had acquired the dog faced a felony cruelty-to-animals charge and misdemeanor charges of giving a false statement to police and dumping a companion animal.

June 2015/New Bedford, Massachusetts: SouthCoastToday.com reported that authorities had found 46 dead and neglected animals, many of whom had been acquired through Craigslist ads, in an apartment. About half of them were dead, and the survivors were badly malnourished. They included cats, rabbits, lizards, birds, and an emaciated dog who was found tied to a doorknob, standing in his or her waste. Authorities reported a strong odor of dead animals and hundreds of flies in the apartment, where the floors were covered with animal feces and cages contained live animals trapped with dead ones. The man and woman who acquired the animals were charged with cruelty to animals, and more charges were being considered.

March 2015/James City County, Virginia: WYDaily.com reported that two kittens who had been acquired through Craigslist ads were the victims of repeated acts of violence. The roommate of the person who acquired the kittens was convicted of cruelty to animals after the kittens were repeatedly taken to a veterinarian for traumatic injuries, including a swollen forehead, eye trauma, dilated pupils, a punctured lung, and fractured ribs. They remained with their owner, and the roommate moved out. The accused received a four-month suspended sentence and was ordered not to have contact with animals.

Murdoch, a kitten available for adoption

February 2015/Olympia, Washington: USAToday.com reported that a man had been charged with 12 counts of cruelty to animals for allegedly starving and torturing animals he had acquired through Craigslist ads. Officers reportedly found more than 20 dead guinea pigs, rabbits, and dogs at his property, some in dirty cages and others hanging from walls. When responding to ads on Craigslist, the accused reportedly told people that “he wanted to rescue their pets.” Two dogs, two rabbits, and three rats were found alive and seized.

September 2014/Kennett, Missouri: DDDNews.com reported that authorities had found a starved and neglected dog at the residence of a couple who had acquired him through a Craigslist ad. The dog was seized after he was found chained in the couple’s backyard with only an undersized travel carrier for shelter and stagnant green water to drink. He tested positive for heartworm disease and was described by the responding officer as looking “like a skeleton painted brown.” She said that “in some places, the skin had broken down, and the bones were (showing) through.” The dog remained in the custody of the city, and citations were issued to the couple.

July 2014/Reno, Nevada: RGJ.com reported that a man had been charged with five felony counts of willful torture of an animal for allegedly killing and dismembering five dogs in a Reno motel. He said that he found the dogs through Craigslist ads and searched for “pets free” in the ads. During a court hearing, people who gave animals to him testified that the accused responded to their Craigslist ads and “seemed like a normal guy.” In a room at the motel, a decapitated dog was found in a bathtub and four dogs’ heads were found in a small refrigerator “along with several bloody knives and scissors.”

July 2014/Dayton, Ohio: DaytonDailyNews.com reported that more than a dozen dogs had been seized by authorities after they were found in deplorable conditions, underweight, and suffering from eye infections, skin conditions, and other health issues. A man and woman were charged with multiple counts of cruelty to animals. The woman claimed to “rescue” animals and said that she acquired at least one dog through a Craigslist ad.


November 2013/Quincy, Massachusetts: BostonGlobe.com reported that a man had been charged with 11 counts of cruelty to animals and one count of misleading police investigators after acquiring a dog from a Craigslist ad who was found three months later lying in the street weighing half her normal bodyweight with broken bones, burns, dislocated joints, a split tongue, and a stabbed eye. Her condition was so severe that she had to be euthanized. The accused paid a couple $40 for the dog after responding to a Craigslist ad and claiming to live on a large farm in Connecticut.

October 2013/Athens, Alabama: WAFF.com reported that a man had been charged with 22 counts of cruelty to animals for allegedly torturing and killing kittens he had acquired through Craigslist ads. Investigators discovered a blood-spattered room and dead kittens at his property and were told by the accused that he had a “cat room” where he would throw kittens on the floor, stomp on them, or “wring their necks” because he was “angry at the world.”


July 2013/Houston, Texas: KHOU.com reported that a dog who had been given away through a Craigslist ad was abandoned on a road by her new owner. A woman who witnessed the terrified dog’s dumping was able to have the dog’s microchip traced to a man who had given her away via Craigslist several months earlier. He did not have the new owner’s name, address, or other contact information. The woman who witnessed the abandonment planned to keep the dog.

June 2013/Ingham County, Michigan: WILX.com reported that a dog who had been given away through a Craigslist ad was kicked and beaten so badly that he has a permanent limp. A witness to the abuse called a cruelty-to-animals tip line, and authorities were able to find the dog but not the perpetrator. A microchip was traced to the dog’s original owner, who didn’t have any information about the couple to whom the dog was given. The dog was receiving veterinary care at a government-run shelter.

June 2013/Virginia Beach, Virginia: PilotOnline.com reported that a man had been sentenced to six months in jail and ordered not to have contact with animals for five years after throwing a kitten against a wall, killing her. He had acquired her through a Craigslist ad three days before killing her.

July 2012/Troutdale, Oregon: KPTV.com reported that two weeks after being acquired through a Craigslist ad, a dog was accidentally left tied to a Jeep and dragged through a parking lot. The dog—who was apparently living in the vehicle with four people, a rabbit, two cats, and a snake—lost most of his foot pads and nails during the incident. Animal control took custody of all the animals, and the four people in the vehicle were cleared of any wrongdoing.


April 2011/Boynton Beach, Florida: PalmBeachPost.com reported that a man who had been charged with 11 counts of cruelty to animals and 12 counts of unlawful abandonment or confinement of an animal claimed to have acquired some of the animals through Craigslist ads. Authorities seized 12 dogs found in the filthy garage of an uninhabited rental home. A probable cause affidavit reportedly stated that “an overwhelming stench of old and fresh feces/urine [was] emanating from the garage area.” Flies were swarming around the garage door.

April 2011/Wood County, Texas: WLOX.com reported that animals adopted as “pets” through Craigslist ads had been fed to illegally harbored exotic snakes by a man and a woman who claimed to run an animal shelter. Law-enforcement agents were alerted to the pair after a woman gave them a dog and then saw the dog advertised for sale online a few days later. Authorities seized 78 snakes from the pair’s property and charged the pair with multiple criminal counts, including cruelty to animals and possessing pythons over 12 feet without the required permit.

January 2011/Louisville, Kentucky: WDRB.com reported that at least two cats who had been acquired through Craigslist ads were tortured to death. A man was arrested after admitting to killing and mutilating cats, some of whose bodies were found strewn in local fields, stabbed, and disemboweled. The man was convicted of eight counts of torturing animals and sentenced to five years in prison.

June 2010/San Antonio, Texas: MySanAntonio.com reported that two men had received prison sentences for torturing to death cats they acquired through Craigslist ads. Three cats were found dead and duct-taped to a piece of plywood. Two of them had their throats slit, and one had been disemboweled. A fourth cat was reportedly doused in gasoline and burned alive while tied to a tree.

April 2008/Orlando, Florida: Fox35Orlando.com reported that authorities were investigating after a dog adopted through a Craigslist ad was killed within days by other dogs the adopter used as “guards” at his property. Animal control documents revealed that another dead dog had been found at the same property just weeks earlier.

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