How to get a dog from Craigslist

How to adopt a dog through

Note: This is the fourth post in a series on how to get a dog. The series has focused on adopting a dog from a poundadopting a dog from a shelter and adopting a dog through a rescue group. It will also focus on buying a puppy from a breeder.

This post is about how to get a dog through Craigslist. Most of these tips will apply if you’re adopting a dog directly from the previous owner, regardless of whether or not you found him through Craigslist.

How to get a dog through Craigslist

How to get a dog from Craigslist

You can find almost anything on Craigslist, including pets. Sometimes rescue groups and shelters will list some of their dogs for adoption on Craigslist. In this case, you would fill out an application with the shelter just like anyone else.

Other dogs are listed on Craigslist by their current owners. Most of these owners love their dogs, but for whatever reason, they need to find them new homes. They are doing a good thing by trying to re-home their dogs themselves rather than turning the dogs over to a shelter right away. The fewer dogs that end up in shelters, the better.

Pros to adopting a dog from someone on Craigslist

1. The adoption process is generally easier.

When you adopt a dog directly from the owner, you can sit down and have an honest one-on-one discussion about the dog, the dog’s needs and whether or not you are a good fit for one another. There will not be a formal adoption process with a home visit or references. While it’s possible the dog’s current owner might ask to see your home, most will not.

2. Fees are negotiable.

Most people will ask for a “re-homing fee” because they believe it will help ensure the dog will go to a good home. These fees vary from $20 to $400. Others, like Ace’s previous owner, won’t ask for money. They just want the dog to go to a good home.

Other items such as a dog kennel, dog bed, bowls, food, treats, a leash, collar and toys may be included with the re-homing fee.

3. Dogs are often vaccinated and spayed/neutered.

You should ask for written records.

4. You can learn a lot about the dog before adopting.

Before I adopted Ace, I had a chance to ask his current owner all kinds of questions, and she was happy to answer. Does he do OK with cats? How much exercise does he need? How does he do in a kennel? Has he had any accidents? Would he make a good running buddy? How does he do with other dogs? Can he be left alone?

Prior to talking with Ace’s previous owner, I had met a lot of other dogs at a shelter. None of those dogs had been “the one” for me because the shelter workers could never answer my questions. Sometimes they just didn’t respond to my emails. At the actual shelter, they acted pressed for time. Sometimes, they just didn’t know enough about the dogs.

5. Dogs are often trained and well socialized.

Remember, there’s usually nothing wrong with these dogs. It’s just that their owners can no longer keep them for whatever reason. Many have had at least some basic training. Many have lived with other dogs or cats.

6. You’re preventing a dog from entering the shelter system.

Just because a dog is listed on Craigslist doesn’t mean he could end up in a shelter, but some of these dogs will. Obviously, if you adopt a dog through Craigslist, it is a win for everyone – the dog, the dog’s owner, the shelters and the rescue groups.

Cons to adopting a dog from Craigslist

How to get a dog from Craigslist

1. Some people are difficult to deal with.

No matter how you obtain a dog, there’s a chance you’ll have to deal with some difficult people. They will automatically be defensive, treating you like a criminal. They might ask dozens of questions (which is probably good). They might accuse you of not being a good dog owner because you use a crate or don’t use a crate or because you feed or don’t feed a certain type of food. They might ask to see your home or to speak with references. They might say you can’t have the dog.

Try to keep in mind all of this is usually because they want the very best for the dog. It’s usually nothing personal. Just try to be happy they are making an effort to find the dog a good home. If the person just seems a little too weird about who can have the dog, just move on and consider one of the thousands of other dogs waiting for homes.

2. The previous owner may not be able to take the dog back.

Shelters and rescue groups will usually take the dog back if it doesn’t work out. This may or may not be the case with the dog’s previous owner. Some people will be able to take dogs back. Others can’t. You should definitely ask this question before committing to the dog, and do everything you can to make sure the dog is a good fit.

3. The owner may want to stay in touch.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing if the dog’s previous owner wants to stay in touch, but you’ll want to establish some boundaries. How often will the previous owner expect text updates? Are you OK with that? How often will she want to visit, if at all? Are you OK giving her your address? Would you like her to call you before just showing up? Or maybe you would rather not keep in touch at all. That’s OK, too, because this will be your dog.

4. The owner could change her mind at the last minute.

I’ve never had to give up a dog, so I don’t know how emotional and difficult it is. I can’t imagine how hard it would be. So, keep in mind that it’s possible for the owner to back out at the last minute and decide to keep the dog after all. This could happen even after you’ve talked about the dog over the phone and even after you’ve met the dog. If this is the case, try to be understanding, move on and consider one of the many other dogs in need of a home.

Tips for adopting a dog through Craigslist

1. Bring the whole family to meet the dog.

Everyone in your family should go along for the initial meeting. Bring your existing dog along too, if possible. Just make sure to give the other party a heads up if you’re bringing other pets. If you live alone, ask a friend to go along. This is a safety precaution, but it’s good to get an unbiased opinion about the new dog. Preferably, bring a friend who will give honest feedback. This is not the time to bring a friend who will beg you to adopt any dog. You want to find the right dog.

2. Meet the dog. Then wait a day before committing.

You want to give yourself at least 12 hours to think things through. It’s hard not to take the dog home right away, especially if you feel a sense of urgency about getting the dog to a better place. Still, if at all possible, it’s a wise choice to take a step back and seriously discuss the dog with all family members. It’s easy to fall in love with a dog’s photo and description, but after meeting the dog you might have a few concerns. This is normal, and it’s worth it to slow down and really think about the decision.

3. Take dog-to-dog intros very slowly.

Be very careful about introducing your current dog to the potential new dog. Avoid introductions in the house, especially in doorways. Avoid head-on meetings. Instead, take them for a short walk side by side.

4. Be aware of potential “rescue” scams.

I can’t write about Craigslist without someone freaking out about how it attracts animal abusers. That’s not really an issue if you’re the one looking to adopt. Most of the people who list dogs on Craigslist are good people, sincerely trying to re-home their dogs.

However, sometimes people use Craigslist in unethical ways. For example, people will breed popular types of dogs like pitbulls and Chihuahuas and then list the puppies as “rescued.” They know they can make money off of people who want a “rescued” dog. I see more of this now that I’ve moved to a larger city, San Diego. In Fargo, I didn’t see this at all. Good old Fargo.

There are always going to be a few people out there looking to take advantage of others. Just use common sense. I recommend you avoid text and email interactions and talk directly on the phone with people, and if someone just seems odd, move on.

What do the rest of you think? Have you ever adopted a dog through Craigslist?

How to adopt a dog through Craigslist

11 thoughts on “How to get a dog from Craigslist”

  1. I found Maya through craigslist. I consider Maya adopted because the woman who posted her on craigslist adopted her through PetSmart just a week prior. The woman was in way over her head. She had two toddlers and and infant and was trying to also care for a rambunctious puppy. Maya was three months old, 20lbs and growing, and was a furball of energy. I didn’t wait a day to take Maya home because I was afraid someone else would come along and get her. And I didn’t introduce her to Sephi until I got home. I also was not aware of craigslist scams at that time. However, I do not believe this was a craigslist scam. The woman gave me Maya’s adoption papers. She did not ask for any more money than what she had paid. And she provided me with records of Maya’s vaccinations and her spaying. All-in-all, the craigslist adoption worked perfectly. The woman was happy and I was happy. Sephi wasn’t happy, but that is another story.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh I didn’t know Maya’s adoption story. That does sound like it works out perfectly. I agree, sometimes you do just have to bite the bullet and take the dog home right then. A lot depends on the dog and the situation as well as your situation. I’m sure someone would’ve scooped her up – she’s so pretty!

  2. I had to stop looking on Craiglist, because I was too tempted to look for dogs who needed a home. It made me sad, because I know that some adds were from people who were breeding dogs with little to no experience or concern for the dogs’ health and welfare.

    Recently, I’ve heard of dog flipping, which is a concern also.

    I wouldn’t turn my back on Craigslist, because every dog needs a home, but (for now) I need to stay off the the site until we are in a place to adopt. I’m looking forward to that day too.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yes, Craigslist has its pros and cons. I’m really hoping to adopt another dog, but probably not for a few more months. I’m going to start with the local shelters first. I’m sure I’ll find a great dog there, but if not I’ll look on Craigslist. This doesn’t stop me from glancing at Craigslist every now and then in the meantime …

  3. I have been looking for a shiatsu mix a King Charles mix cavapoodle or cavachon . I will spend a lot of time with the dog and have been looking online at purebreds and looking at animal shelters. I am trying to find a puppy -3year old dog that has come from a good home and if it’s a 1-3year old dog that has had some training. Thank you

  4. So here’s a question. I was given a dog for a trial run. I have the dog with me and it’s been a week with no word from the owner. The dog is great and I want to keep her. My question is I’m afraid for some reason the person is going to ask for the dog back. I don’t have any release or ownership papers. What’s the legal terms regarding the dog now?


    We purchased a goldendoodle puppy a week ago in a Petco parking lot near Eastvale CA for $1100. We were told it was a girl. 2 days later we took it to the Vet and were told it was a boy and only 5 weeks old. A few days went by and he got violently ill, throwing up and diarrhea non-stop. We spent over $1000 trying to save him. He ended up dying after owning him for just 6 days.


  6. I adopted an 80 pound pitbull from Craigslist. She was a beautiful girl and used to curl up into a big doughnut and sleep by my head all night. She was with me two years and nine months when she developed lymphoma. I am still angry and upset that she had to leave me so soon. In due time I will be back on Craigslist to adopt another one of these beautiful animals.

    Pete in Nebraska

  7. Looking for a young female child friendly puppy. Would really like if she didn’t shed but not a problem. Please get in touch with me if possible. Thanks.

  8. Salina Maddox.

    I just lost my 2 bl 1 oz ESA Dog.
    I have two yorkis mother and son .
    But need a 3 rd for an ESA. As mum and son can not be separated. And I need one who can go out with me ( when life gets back to normal that is. I have leads and cloths for xxs or sm size. So this is what I’m looking for. Apple head chwawa or Pom or poodle or pappion something small as I am disabled. And have a max wt limit of 20 bl. With a hand bag and my Cain. I need the baby to fit in my carrier. And the clothing I already have. I would like a girl. But if the size only has a boy. That’s ok too. I basically just need a tinny companion. Who can make me feel not alone when I’m out of the house.

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