Authorities in Oregon's Marion County are looking into claims that free pet postings on Craigslist may be tied to incidents of animal abuse, KVAL reports.
Police have not yet verified the claims, but authorities in the area have received multiple phone calls regarding rumors that pets advertised through "free to a good home" listings are subsequently being used as targets for shooters with real guns, according to KGW.
People calling local police appear to be doing so in response to a "warning" sign that has been circulating on Facebook. KOIN Local 6 traced the post toSalem Friends of Felines group, which featured the text on their Facebook page on Friday.
The sign (see photo above) urges users to refrain from advertising free adoptions through Craigslist until the suspects in question are caught. The text states an anonymous caller told a local veterinary clinic that he or she had witnessed animals being shot and killed near an ATV range in Marion County. The person allegedly overheard the suspects mention they had retrieved the animals through Craigslist ads.
Snopes -- an online source for myths, urban legends and rumors -- noted that police released a statement clarifying they had not yet received calls or emails from anyone with direct knowledge of these shootings. Instead, they have heard from people who had posted on Craigslist in the "free to good home" section and have been contacted by animal rights activists and threatened because their animals could be used for deviant acts or target practice.
PETA has been critical of Craigslist facilitating free pet adoptions in the past. In a blog post, the organization notes:
Make no mistake: PETA encourages adoptions of dogs, cats, rabbits, gerbils, and other companion animals to responsible, thoughtful, competent, and loving adult guardians—but not just anyone. Simply to hand the leash—and the dog—to the first smiling stranger who pulls into the driveway is not enough to ensure the safety of the animal. Anyone who offers an animal up for adoption should personally visit the home of the potential guardian beforehand and follow up on the adoption later.
The organization's concerns may also stem from highly publicized incidents, including one from March, in which three "swingers" from Arizona were arrested after using Craigslist to find a golden retriever to allegedly have sex with.