Most people have good intentions when they advertise a cat or dog as "Free To Good Home". They care what happens to the animal and are not interested in making money. All they want to do is find a nice family that is willing to give the pet a loving, responsible home.
The tragedy occurs when the animal is mistakenly put into a situation where it is neglected, abandoned, abused, or even sold for lab experimentation. Sadly, this sort of thing happens thousands of times each day across America.
Giving any pet away is misguided. People tend not to value what they don't pay for. If you charge a nominal fee of $35-$45 or more for an animal, the new owner is more likely to take their commitment to the pet seriously. A free pet is a disposable pet!
Paying a fee for a pet shows good faith on the part of the new owner and demonstrates their willingness to properly care for the animal. The truth is, there is no such thing as a "free" pet anyway. By the time a cat or dog is checked out by a vet, including shots, worming, health testing, and spay/neuter, a "free" pet will easily cost in excess of $100, and that's just for starters. A responsible person who would properly take care of an animal will understand this and will not be opposed to paying a reasonable fee for a healthy pet, especially if some or all of these health items have already been taken care of.
PBRC.com offers some excellent advice on what to do:
A recent study at one animal shelter yielded the startling statistic that 41% of all owner-surrendered dogs had been obtained "Free to good home."
This is how some people see your "free" loved one:
Free snake food. Free animal for malicious pranks. Free animal to set on fire or insert a firecracker into. Free to breed indiscriminately. Free animal to hoard and neglect.
What Is A "Buncher?"
A buncher either steals or "adopts" companion animals for the purpose of selling the animal. Bunchers can sell animals for one or more of the following reasons:
To be used in research labs To be used as bait to train dogs in fighting rings or hunting dogs To be used as breeding stock in puppy or kitten mills
"Bunchers" can be very deceptive and they prey on people who place "free to good home" ads. They will sometimes use children as part of the ploy and present themselves as a "perfect" family. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
"First come, first served" does not apply here. You are under no obligation to give your dog to the first person who says he wants him or her. You have every right to ask questions and choose the person you think will make the best new owner. Don't let anyone rush you or intimidate you.