Giving away pets can be a dangerous risk

People responding to ads for free pets online may be putting the animal at risk.

If, for some reason, you have to give up your pet and are trying to find it a new home, just giving it away for free could be putting its life in danger.

"He could have been bred. He could have been somebody's dog. He could have been free on Craigslist," said Christine Jeschke with the Humane Society of Indianapolis as she held a pit bull mix on a leash.

They don't know where the dog they now call "Triton" came from. What they do know, is the stray came to the shelter two weeks ago in bad shape.

"We definitely believe he was used as a bait for a fight," explained Jeschke, pointing to the hundreds of puncture wound from teeth marks on the animal.

Investigators confirm bait dogs have been used to help train other dogs to become vicious fighters.

"When you're giving an animal away free, there is a risk. So the public has got to be responsible when they're thinking about re-homing a pet," said Jeschke.

When you advertise "free to a good home," that's no guarantee that's how things will turn out for the pet you are trying to place in someone else's care.

"Free animals for bait. They can be used - smaller ones, especially rabbits, gerbils...tiny, little, even kittens - as snake food, medical testing and then some really unthinkable uses," said Rebecca Stevens with the Humane Society of Hamilton County.

That's why, at their shelter, the Humane Society of Hamilton County makes adopters sign an agreement that says if the pet they take home doesn't work out, they'll return it to the shelter, instead of trying to find it a home.

"There's just too many situations out there where that can go horribly wrong," said Stevens.

Volunteers at the shelter also scan Craigslist everyday to look for pets they've adopted out, whose owners are now trying to give away or re-sell at a higher price.

"We've had several bait dogs come in. More bait dogs in the last 12 months, probably than we've...than I have seen in the last eight years that I've been here," said Stevens.

Dogs like Triton at the shelter in Indianapolis, who, once healed, will hopefully get a second chance at a new life.

The bottom line, experts say, is if you're really serious about finding your pet a good home, it's best to interview the interested party, visit their home, ask a price, and finally go with your gut.