Rescue group advertises dog for $350 — after getting it for free

A Selkirk woman is warning pet owners not to give away their pets for free after a rescue group advertised her dog online for $350.

Selkirk woman, who listed her dog for free online, found it advertised for adoption days later

A Selkirk woman says gave her dog, Lucy, away for free to what she thought was a loving home, only to find the dog posted on an animal rescue's page days later. The rescue was asking for $350 adoption fee. (Supplied)

A Selkirk woman is warning pet owners after she spotted the dog she gave away being advertised online by a local pet rescue group for $350.

Shelley Wait said she was looking to re-home her eight-month-old puppy, Lucy, because the dog was getting too big to play safely with her two Chihuahuas.

"I just felt like she might be happier and more suited to a house with another dog, or just by herself," said Wait.
Shelley Wait says she thought the woman who took her dog, Lucy, was going to give her a loving home, but instead turned her over to an animal rescue group. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Wait posted an ad on Kijiji and stipulated that the dog's new owner should have a large yard or one with a fence. She didn't ask for any money but wanted to be able to choose who would take her.

Wait says a woman messaged her about the dog and came to see it the morning after she posted the ad. She says the woman claimed she had a large fenced yard and another dog the same size that Lucy could play with.

Wait says after a 15-minute conversation with the woman she decided it was the right fit and let Lucy go with her.

"I said, 'If it doesn't work out, please just bring her back.' To me that's a verbal agreement," said Wait.

Nine days later, Wait found Lucy being advertised on Kijiji by a local animal rescue group, Homeless and Injured Animal Rescue of Canada (HIARC), asking for an adoption fee of $350.

Free dog ends up at rescue

6 years ago
Duration 2:33
Rescue group advertises dog for $350 — after getting it for free

"That's not where I wanted her to go, I didn't want her to go to a shelter, I wanted her to go to a nice loving home," said Wait. "[The woman] presented herself as wanting this puppy so bad, and she had the perfect yard for it. It does feel like a betrayal." 

Wait contacted the rescue group and told the man on the phone Lucy was supposed to be brought back if the woman didn't want her anymore.

"I told him that I want my dog back, and he was like, 'Are you willing to pay for her?"'

Wait told him she would not give him any money. She says the man scolded her for listing her dog for free and then giving it to a stranger.

Wait tried to message the woman from Kijiji but got no response. She then found her Facebook account and realized the same woman who took her dog was a volunteer at the rescue that was advertising it.

"I feel like I got fooled," said Wait.

Wait says her sister later found the rescue's Facebook page and saw the date on the post for adoption was the same day the woman came for her dog, February 8.

"They saw the ad, it's for free, and they came and took [the dog] straight to a shelter," she said.

Wait says her sister sent her these screen grabs that show that Lucy was posted to HIARC's page on February 8, the same day that she was picked up from Wait's home.

Michael Purkhardt, a director with HIARC, says the volunteer did pick up Lucy with the intention of keeping her but then decided eight days later it wasn't working out. Purkhardt says that's when the volunteer turned the dog over to HIARC.

"She didn't feel it was good to give it back to Shelley because she didn't want the dog to go back on Kijiji for free and end up in the wrong hands," said Purkhardt.

When asked about the date stamp on the HIARC posting, advertising Lucy for adoption on the same day she was picked up, he said the volunteer posted Lucy to the page to see if anyone would claim her as their dog, because she didn't know if Wait had given away her own dog or someone else's.

He said this is something that the volunteer had done in the past as well.

'Nothing wrong' with Lucy

Wait says Lucy had already been fixed and had all her shots and would not have cost the rescue anything.

"They received Lucy in a wonderful, happy, healthy, state. She's not homeless, she's not injured. There was nothing wrong with her at all," said Wait.

Purkhardt says he understands that it may look like they are just trying to turn a profit on the dog, but insists that was not the case.
Wait says Lucy was rough fighting with her Chihuahuas so she decided to re-home her. (Supplied)

"Now we're selling it, we're making the money," he said. "We are filtering out all the people who want things for free just for the fun of it."

Wait says she pleaded with the rescue to return Lucy to her and offered to make a donation of food to the rescue, and have them come and inspect her home if they would return Lucy to her. Wait says they refused because she wouldn't pay for the dog.

"If you're a rescue person then inform people, don't scheme about it," she said.

Taking free dogs OK, says rescue group

Purkhardt says Lucy has since been adopted and even if the volunteer picked up the dog with the intention of turning her over to the rescue, it would be in the animal's best interest.

He says they would not return Lucy to Wait because she gave the dog away without knowing where it was going.

"We don't have compassion for humans when it comes to animals. I don't care about your feelings, I don't care if you cry and all that, I'm not going to give you your dog back because I feel bad for you. I don't care about humans, I only care about the animals when it comes to animals," he said.

Purkhardt says when animals are posted online for free anyone can pose as a loving home and the animal could end up being used in dog fights as bait, or worse.

Purkhardt also says that he wouldn't have a problem with someone picking up animals that were advertised for free and then turning them over to a rescue.

"Why can't we take that dog from Kijiji for free and then turn around and place it in a good home?" he said.

"I think maybe we should start doing that actually, to get people's dogs away when they put it for free on Kijiji."

Wait says she regrets giving up Lucy and would advise people to never give their pets away for free.