Pets and animals
The question whether or not to allow pets and other animals to be offered or requested on Freegle can be a controversial one. It is also a decision that is up to local groups to decide on their main message boards. On Chitchat, a rule was adopted in July 2022 that no live creatures can be offered, requested of sold - ChitChat#Moderation
(‘Other animals’ include live animal feed, e.g. mice or locusts to be fed to reptiles, and livestock, e.g. poultry.)
Some groups do not allow animal posts of any description, some allow offers but not wanteds. Some allow posts for animals that local centres do not cater for, such as fish.
PETA wrote to the Board in 2022 asking for a national policy prohibiting offers of live animals. The Board discussed it and decided it was to remain a local decision. https://discourse.ilovefreegle.org/t/message-from-peta/4918
Your Group's Policy
When deciding whether or not to allow pet and animal posts the moderator team may want to consider the following:
- What local facilities are already available for re-homing pets, such as rescue centres.
- Whether the group is an urban one or a rural one.
- Whether the moderator team have the time and experience to give to this.
- Whether to run a poll on the group - if you have polled your members, that can be helpful when dealing with complaints. Be aware that there have been instances of news of such a poll might reach organisations who have very strong opinions on the subject, and they may encourage people to join your group with the single purpose of voting on the poll. You may want to consider suspending new applications for the duration of the poll.
- The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (http://paag.org.uk/) offers good advice for those wanting a new pet and is a good resource for your group to use to help members. The RSPCA, Blue Cross and other major charities are all members of PAAG. They are all concerned with inappropriate online advertising of animals.
- Lucy's Law covers the selling and adoption of puppies and we should be mindful of the implications if puppies are offered or requested on Freegle - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/lucys-law-spells-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-puppy-farming
- A checklist - https://icatcare.org/advice/the-kitten-checklist/ - for rehoming kittens is worth considering if you intend to allow kittens to be offered and/or requested.
Advantages in allowing Animal posts
- There may not be local facilities in your area to re-home pets, making this a potentially useful service.
- Members may wish to have contact with the person they re-home their pet with.
- Allowing pets gives members more choice as to how they can use their group, making the group less restrictive.
Disadvantages in allowing Animal posts
- Can increase workload.
- Can increase the number of complaints both the group and Freegle nationally gets - people have been known to boycott groups that allow animal posts.
- You may feel uneasy about animals being re-homed without the safety checks and vetting (pun intended) offered by rescue centres.
- Keep an up to date list of local and national animal rescue centres to send to people wanting to rehome live creatures (See Animal Rehoming Links )
- Establish a good relationship with your local rescue and rehoming centres - your group can help them with things they want (bedding, carriers, baskets, cages etc) and you will be in a stronger position if you do get challenged if you can respond with well informed information about your group's policy.
- Get a Pet Mod. A Pet Mod is solely in charge of handling all animal posts. See Pet Mods for some guidance on how this role can be carried out.
- Messages relating to lost pets are really more suited to café groups than to the main Freegle groups.
- See Frogspawn and tadpoles for specific advice on these seasonal messages!
Messages/Replies to Members
General Reply as used nationally
The central Freegle mailbox gets the occasional member complaining about their local group allowing animal posts. Where possible, all emails are forwarded to the local group concerned to deal with, but often members want Freegle to adopt a national policy. An example of the Mailbox response to that type of email is:
"Thank you very much for your concern. We have guidelines for groups that offer pets which mention the points you have made but as we are a network of independent groups, each group has its own policy on whether live creatures can be rehomed via their community.
You have mentioned cats and dogs, but our groups are offered a much larger - and usually less emotive - range of live creatures. Hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, fish, giant land snails, snakes, locusts and others have all been offered. When deciding on a local policy, the moderating team will take the whole range of animals into account in their decision.
Some of our groups allow no live creatures at all, some allow small creatures, others allow all animals. Each group responds to the local need for rehoming, which often charities are not able to fulfill. The first port of call is always recommended to be local rehoming centres but usually those with cats and dogs have already unsuccessfully tried that avenue. There are very few, if any, outlets nationwide for fish, rodents, reptiles, birds etc. With the current economic situation creating record numbers of unwanted dogs and cats for charities to deal with, other creatures can stand little chance of rehoming because it is traditionally cats, dogs and horse/donkey charities that attract the financial and emotional support of the public.
All our volunteers take seriously their responsibilities in running their groups. As we are a network of individual groups, run by local people, we are able to respond to local need. You haven't mentioned which charity or group you represent, but if animal welfare charities offered their help and time to their local Freegle group, it could provide a much better situation for the many unwanted live creatures there are in the UK."
Rejection Message for post
A sample message for rejection of a post on your group - Animals