An Open Letter to Craigslist and Facebook:

Please stop selling dogs.


Dear Craigslist and Facebook,

Please stop helping people sell dogs on your sites. Oh, I know, you say you don’t allow these sales – that these activities are prohibited by your terms of service – but you do absolutely nothing of value to stop them. Backyard breeders wouldn’t be able to succeed without you!


Facebook, when I search your site for “puppies for sale,” I do get a warning page that says, “Are you sure you want to continue? This search may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals. Animal abuse and the sale of live animals between private individuals is not allowed on Facebook.”

A Facebook warning message detailing that live animal trading is not allowed.
If you search for puppy breeders on Facebook, you may get a pop-up that looks like this…


But the two options from that page are “Continue” or “Learn more” – and if I click on “Continue,” I am served up a variety of pages from which I can shop for puppies! That’s an incredibly useless warning.


A Facebook listing showing puppies for sale.
… but it’s completely toothless, because if you click “Continue,” you will be served up pages for any number of puppy breeders.


Craigslist, I know that you allow other users to monitor and “flag” posts from breeders, but seriously, that’s a joke. It would take an army of volunteers working around the clock to flag the ads for puppies appearing in the hundreds of local craigslist pages in the U.S. Also, each ad needs to be flagged numerous times before it gets removed; why not just remove the entire “pets” category?!

I’ve seen it mentioned on other forums that the “pets” page on craigslist can be used for good, to help people rehome individual animals. Unfortunately, that’s just not how the page is used by the vast majority of users, despite the fact that everyone who sells puppies now asks for a “rehoming” fee. Give me a break: These pages are a cesspool of ads for breeders, plain and simple.

A Craigslist advertisement showing a wide list of puppies and kittens for sale.
There are far more ads for puppies for sale on craigslist than ads for individual animals that truly need to be “rehomed.”

Note that I’m not against breeding altogether – but breeders who are truly responsible produce such a small number of puppies that they have long waiting lists of buyers; they don’t have to advertise to find homes for the far-too-many pups they force their females to churn out.

Also, I would guess that almost every dog or puppy who gets sold through craigslist or Facebook ends up reproducing. Most states have legislation requiring that shelters and rescues adopt out only animals who have been spayed or neutered. There is no such requirement for buying a puppy from a breeder someone finds on Facebook or craigslist, and these surgeries are expensive. Also, the people who go puppy shopping through these sites are largely inexperienced owners who don’t know how to responsibly shop for a dog; they probably aren’t aware of how much spay/neuter surgery will cost, or when it should be performed – and don’t know how to prevent their new dog from reproducing in the absence of such surgery!

Are there “good” breeders advertising their wares on Facebook and craigslist? I don’t know anyone who would answer “yes” to this question. These are people who are straight-up using their pets for income. While some have improved their “professionalism” to the extent that they can take decent pictures of their merchandise, many more show puppies growing up in squalid, dirty environments to mothers that look unhealthy and unloved.

A Belgian Shepard with a litter of puppies in a kennel surrounded by cinderblocks.
This is not how quality breeders house their mothers and puppies, but you’ll see lots of pictures of puppies being raised in squalid conditions like this on craigslist.


And if you need even one more reason to stop the flow of income to craigslist and Facebook breeders, please go visit any “open admission” municipal shelter near you – not a pretty, well-funded “limited admission” shelter, but the kind that is legally required to take in all the unwanted dogs in an area. Ask how many kennels they have (what number of dogs the facility was designed to hold) – and how many they are actually holding. (Hint: It’s gotten really bad in the past few years since covid; every shelter in the country is screaming about too many dogs and not enough adopters, which is what makes these ads for backyard breeders on your sites just that much more galling.)

PLEASE, shelter and rescue workers and volunteers are BEGGING you: Put an end to these ads. Ban these pages. Without free advertising and a ready market for their puppies, people will be forced to slow or stop breeding (after a glut of surrendered puppies and breeding animals end up in the shelter, of course).

PS: If for some reason, you just can’t bring yourself to cut off these loathsome users, here’s another idea: Charge a pretty penny for the ads, and then donate the income to nonprofit spay/neuter providers. If there were free spay/neuter surgery available to anyone who wanted it for the dogs they bought from an ad they saw on Craigslist or Facebook, there would be MANY fewer dogs being given away, abandoned on the streets, and surrendered to shelters.


  1. Excellent letter with solid hits on all points. The practice of retailing pets on these platforms may not directly harm individual animals but the businesses they promote certainly do. Animal cruelty by acts of omission and willful ignorance is still cruelty to animals.

  2. WONDERFUL letter, Nancy! I volunteer with Homeward Bound Golden retriever Rescue, and we have a dedicated volunteer whose only job is searching for Goldens posted on Facebook and Craigslist…and she’s swamped with work every week. It’s absolutely disgusting. I really do hope you post this on FB…too bad there’s no place to post it on Craigslist, because our volunteer says they’re the worst offender.

  3. Thank you, Nancy. For almost six years I’ve shared my life with a former puppy mill mama. She fared better than some of the dogs I’ve gotten to know but my heart still mourns all the things she missed during those years. It took a long time for her to accept affection and though she loves people she still isn’t as cuddly as the other dogs we’ve had. We love her just the way she is, but I know that so many dogs have suffered horribly for the sake of greed. God bless everyone who is working to put an end to it. Kelley

  4. I’m in my 70’s and I’ve had several dogs and 1 cat over the past 50 years. The cat and 3 of the dogs came from back yard breeders. I also got one dog from an animal shelter. I bought one dog from a breeder. My experience has been that all of these animals were loved and well cared for. I had my dogs in puppy kindergarten, obedience training and even some agility training. They have all had excellent veterinary care. I have never sold any dogs or tried to breed them. My point is that not all back yard breeders are bad people and not all dogs that come from back yard breeders are problem dogs. Maybe the state needs to make stronger laws to protect animals I and would be in favor of that but some animals listed for sale or adoption will find good homes. I just looked on Craigslist and I see a dog that needs to be re-homed. His owner died and the person posting the ad is simply trying to find a good home for the dog. I don’t see anything wrong with that. There is no money involved.

  5. I understand the problem with back yard breeders with no scruples in their breeding, but for us that have working dogs and being a member of a working dog group, the announcement of a particular litter is very useful. For instance, I am a member of a hunting and field trial retriever group on Facebook. Many of the members have dogs with specific pedigrees and characteristics of interest and will breed their dogs for the betterment of the breed. Facebook provides a community for us to interact and exchange information. Facebook does restrict sales on the site, no prices can be published. If someone is interested, they must contact the breeder directly.

  6. You folks who are saying some of the people on Facebook and Craigslist are OK are missing the point. We don’t need any backyard breeders to create puppies, period! You saw the picture above. How many pictures like that are there? One is too many. Each year approximately 390,000 dogs are murdered. We do not need any of these people on Facebook or Craigslist who make money from the misery of dogs. There are more than enough dogs in the shelters for everyone to have a wonderful companion.

  7. I am a volunteer at a shelter in Northern California. We are inundated with puppies that are picked up by animal control. The shelter feels that these puppies are the ones that the backyard breeder isn’t able to sell so they just dump them. Currently have five 4 month old german shepherd pups that definitely came from a backyard breeder.

  8. I have printed this letter, and I am sending it to Politicians DEMANDING legislative changes NOW. Unwanted animals are a public health crisis, and greed and corruption caused overpopulation (most backyard breeders are not paying taxes on that money) the outcome is being resolved with taxpayer money and resources. I am sick and tired of the minority controlling the majority. I am sick and tired of the apathy from Politicians. End it NOW. Make backyard breeding illegal in all 50 States. Require a license, insurance, and a financial commitment to cover the costs for a dog taken to a shelter for life. The dog cannot be returned to the Breeder because they will kill it. Make shelters a re-homing site..not a dump site.