Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Craigslist - Thinking Outside the Box

I wrote this blog several years ago - I thought it was a good time to dig it out, dust it off and repost it.

Our old horse trailer - full of memories and good times. Here we are on our trek from Texas to Wisconsin. Four horses and one small dog. 

One of the things I hope to do with my blog - is to shake things up a bit. Encourage people to think outside the box - or at least think differently about an issue. New thinking brings new ideas and new ideas bring solutions. 

Lately, there has been a wave of hatred against Craigslist in the animal welfare world. To me it is ridiculous to hate Craigslist. Craigslist is a tool. It can be used wisely - or not. Like a shovel.  Great for digging a hole, but not so great when you hit someone on the head with it.  Craigslist is a tool that reaches thousands of people every day across the country in a very efficient manner. Plus it's free! Hating Craigslist seems like a big waste of energy. I want to share my story.

About a month ago, my husband and I bought a newer 4 horse gooseneck trailer with living accommodations - something to take the horses to weekend shows. We can stay in the trailer, make our meals, and enjoy the camaraderie that goes along with the sport when you camp on the grounds. Since we no longer needed our old trailer, my husband acid washed it, fixed all the little odds and ends that needed repairs, and got it ready to sell. He took pictures inside and out (frankly it looked better than it ever had) and he made dozens of full color fliers to hang in the tack shops and feed stores. We discussed our options.  Listing it with one of the many on-line trailer listing services or consigning it to a trailer lot.  We ended up buying big "For Sale" signs, taped them to the trailer sides and parked it by a busy road for passersbys to see. We fully expected it to take several months to sell.  How many people would want to buy a 17 year old 4 horse gooseneck trailer? 

An acquaintance asked us if we had thought about Craigslist and quite frankly - we hadn't. My husband didn't think it would work but we decided to give it a try. Lo and behold - we posted it for two days and had dozens of calls - both locally and out of state. We screened the people, send back info and more pictures and did our homework. We had two qualified buyers. It was a bittersweet day when the new family came with cashier's check in hand to purchase the trailer.  I thought of all the memories that trailer had given us. Now it was going off to a new home - to take a mother and daughter to horse shows around the state making memories for them as well. My husband went over the safety features with them, talked to them about correct towing procedures, showed them the little quirky things,  and then it was time.  They hooked it up and drove off into the sunset.
Could a consignment lot have re-homed our trailer so well? or as fast?  Maybe, but who knows. It might have languished on the lot for months getting all dusty and dirty again. 

I'm trying to make a comparison here.   I'm certainly not advocating that people use Craigslist to rehome their pets. I'm hoping they will do everything in their best efforts to keep their pets. But if for some reason they can't - who best to advocate for a pet than it's owner? They know it's likes and dislikes, it's habits and history, and it's silly little quirks.  When an animal goes directly from a home to another home, and stays out of the shelter, it is at less risk for disease, and all the emotional and physical stress induced by the shelter environment. Plus it frees up the shelter system for it's real purpose - a safety net, for those animals who have no owner or guardian who is able or willing to advocate for them.

So do I want everyone to post their animals on Craigslist*? No, of course not. But each of us only has so much energy. Use it wisely. Negative energy to "hate" something is distracting us from working towards animal welfare solutions. 

* To reach a more targeted audience (although much smaller) than Craigslist, check out many of the other on-line sites and forums (example -  Best Friends forums) or ask for a "courtesy posting" through your local humane society's website.  Progressive humane societies realize the life-saving benefits of direct re-homing and will offer this service either on-line or will allow you to post a flier on their bulletin board.  

1 comment:

  1. Completely agree with this. I encourage surrendering families to consider privately rehoming their pet. To me, this is a far better situation - my foster carers aren't filled up, shelters have less intakes, and the original family can verify the individuals interested in adopting the animal. The original family probably knows that animal best.

    Furthermore, rescues can list their available animals on online classified sites, too. They still use the same application and screening process, but many people just don't consider a rescue animal or don't know where to start looking.