For over a decade, PETA, The Dodo, HuffPost, Chicago Now and various bloggers have warned people about the dangers of posting pets on Craigslist. After reading an article about the Netflix documentary about cat killer Luka Magnotta in September 2020, something nudged me to start replying to Cleveland Craigslist pet section ads to warn people about the likes of:
- Jason Brown, who beheaded small dogs that he obtained from Craigslist;
- Arthur Vieira, who adopted a pit bull posted on Craigslist, and, after she allegedly bit him, muzzled her, tied her legs together, drove her to the woods and set her on fire;
- Kaine A. Louzader, who tortured and killed “at least” 12 cats and kittens he obtained from Craigslist;
- Ronald Fraser Golden, who killed 22 cats he bought from Craigslist; and
- Dogfighters, who “scour Craigslist and Facebook all day looking for pets they can use as bait,” according to a HuffPost article written by a former animal shelter employee.
In 60 days, I replied to 413 ads. In those ads, I saw:
- A Chihuahua with “a messed-up shoulder from its previous owner” in the free stuff section;
- A palm-sized kitten between ads for a driveway rock and used motor oil in the free stuff section;
- A black 4-month-old pit bull puppy in the free stuff section with a photo that, six weeks earlier, had been posted on social media with, “Meet my son! Coal!” and a puppy emoji;
- Aggressive pit bulls that weren’t good with children or other pets;
- Ads seeking pit bulls;
- Pit bull breeders even though nearly 2,800 pit bulls are euthanized per day in this country, according to Save-a-Bull Rescue of Minnesota;
- Free litters of kittens;
- A 15-year-old cat being bounced from her home of two years “due to allergies and fur”; and
- A rabbit with pink eye.
As if those weren’t bad enough, someone obtaining bait animals for Cleveland dogfighter Angelo McCoy posted an ad saying she was willing to take “all unwanted animals” Sunday, November 8.
It’s one thing to warn people that dogfighters search Craigslist for bait animals their dogs can tear apart for practice; it’s another to get confirmation that it’s really happening.
Worried about all the cats, kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs and dogs I’d seen posted the previous two months, I spent the next two hours re-replying to every ad beneath it to warn people not to reply to her ad and to be on guard in case she replied to theirs. I also sent the ad to Cleveland APL and the Public Animal Welfare Society (PAWS Ohio) with the subject line “Dogfighter is looking for bait on Craigslist.”
When neither of them replied, I emailed PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, The Paw Project, Mercy for Animals and other animal advocacy organizations I’d donated money to over the years to ask for advice. The only one that replied was PETA — with a form letter beginning with, “Thank you for contacting PETA. We appreciate the time you took to share this with us, and it has been passed along to the appropriate staff members here.”
Two hours after the first ad seeking bait animals was posted on the east side of Cleveland, a similar ad appeared on the west side, where, two months earlier, police had rescued nine dogs from a suspected dogfighter who was questioned but never arrested even though investigators “determined almost all [of the dogs] had been involved in some kind of fighting in the 24 hours before the raid.”
Unfortunately but not surprisingly, after a coworker whose brother works as an officer in Angelo McCoy’s district ran what I’d told her past his supervisor, I was told not to bother worrying about it because the city didn’t have the money to pursue it. I did worry about it though. These monsters teach their dogs to kill their opponents by tying small animals’ hind legs together so they can’t defend themselves and instructing their pit bulls to attack them. As if that weren’t evil enough, these dogfighters were preying upon people, promising them they’d give their pet a good home, and those animals were were going from a home where they were loved, pet and played with to a scary new place where they were tied up, mauled and killed.
People wonder whether animals can think and feel like humans. I know they can.
It was devastating to imagine what these poor cats, kittens, dogs and other animals were thinking as they were driven from their home and then handed to dogs trained to kill them.
The day after the dogfighters posted Craigslist ads seeking bait, an ad saying, “Maybe it was you. Let me know,” appeared in Cleveland’s pet section.
I couldn’t believe it. These [censored] were using Craigslist to communicate with each other while McCoy was out on bond, awaiting trial.
Thursday, November 12, upon the recommendation of a wildlife rehab page I follow on Facebook, I emailed Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF.org) in California about the dogfighters’ ads. ALDF’s communications director replied November 13, saying she’d given Craigslist a November 13 deadline to shut down its pet section earlier that week.
Craigslist refused as it has time and time again:
So, I continue to spend every break, lunch and waking minute that I’m not working replying to ads to warn people about the dangers of posting pets on Craigslist. But instead of just replying to Cleveland ads, I set my “pet” and “free stuff” section parameters to hundreds of miles from downtown, knowing dogfighters have been busted in Toledo and Columbus, Ohio, Flint and Detroit, Michigan, and Buffalo, New York, and they, too are out on bond, killing animals while awaiting trial.
December 10, 2020, I hand-delivered a letter to the judge in McCoy’s case, which was supposed to go to trial December 14 and, unbelievably, still has not gone on trial as of November 2021.
I have also reported similar Craigslist pet and free stuff section ads to Toledo, Ohio, police, Summit County, Ohio, police, Columbus, Ohio, police, Dearborn, Michigan, police, Detroit Animal Control and Altoona, Pennsylvania, police. As of May 2021, I have replied to over 10,000 ads to warn people about dogfighters and other monsters that animal “protective” leagues and societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals should have been warning people about since they closed their doors to the public during COVID quarantines, knowing full well that people would be rehoming pets online.
Tuesday, February 16, I sent a 66-page letter illustrating everything I have seen on Craigslist to four senators who introduced a stronger animal cruelty bill last fall, President Biden and several major media outlets. It’s time for shelters to reopen and for Craigslist to stop allowing pets to be posted on its site. I won’t shut up until they do.