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How to Buy or Adopt Animals Online With Civility and Finesse

Theophanes is a New-England-based blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of cats.

Barnevelder chick

Barnevelder chick

I have spent many years breeding various animals and selling them online, starting with the fancy rats I had several decades ago. Now I live on a poultry farm and have a pretty steady supply of chicks to sell, but what I have noticed is that buyer etiquette has gone down the gutter. Sure, there has always been the odd nutter, but now it seems like it's 9 out of 10! So please, if you are considering getting an animal or livestock online, be a good person and don't do the things listed below.

1. Don't inquire if you're not really interested.

Breeders and rescuers are happy to answer questions and make sure their animals go to the right place but in filtering out the proper homes and the potential nutters we don't have a lot of time left over to say over and over again, "Yes, this animal is available. Please provide me with more information."

I know, it's the internet, and it's just soooo easy to reply to anyone and everyone! Especially if you're 13 years old and trying to sneak a puppy into the house, but please don't. If you are 13 we will figure this out . . . and so will your parents!

Golden Brabanter Chick

Golden Brabanter Chick

2. Take the time to read the whole ad . . . every word.

Please take the time to read and digest the information in an ad before replying. My ads are usually four lines long and STILL I get asked to repeat information! My ads usually read:

Five Brabanter Chicks for Sale

Five Golden Brabanter chicks for sale - Straight run only (unsexed.) Hatched 4/4 here on the farm. Vaccinated for Marek's. Photo is of chicks and their parents.

Here are some questions I have been asked about the above ad:

  • How many chicks do you have?
  • Are they pullets (female)?
  • How old are they?

I have been asked this at least ten times just for this ad. READ. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST READ!

Rags the White Laced Red Cornish rooster

Rags the White Laced Red Cornish rooster

3. Please do NOT ask how much for the parent animals.

I don't even know where to start with this one . . . I get it a lot, maybe because I deal in chickens and everyone thinks I must just have an endless parade of chickens to replace said adults with, which I do not, in case you're wondering. I have heard of people even asking this about dogs though, which strikes me as way above and beyond being rude.

Look, most breeders put photos of the parent animals on the ad to show what the baby animals will look like as an adult. This does NOT mean they are for sale! In fact, most are probably pets and you'll probably severely offend them when you ask, so don't! We also know the people who tend to ask this question are the ones who want breeding age animals themselves, right now, so they can immediately turn their own profit. This reveals your character and don't be surprised if you're not replied to or kicked off the premises.

4. Please make an appointment with an actual time.

I know, it might look like the people posting ads have no life of their own because they're online but this is probably not the case. When you set up an appointment to see and or buy an animal please make it a fixed point in time, not the vague idea of when you may or may not show up. An acceptable time to show up may be 2 PM on Thursday. Far less acceptable is "I think I can come on Thursday sometime before dark but I'm not sure."

Waffling on something as simple as time will not make a good impression. And trust me, I know, people who do this most often don't show up, leaving the breeder and/or rescuer waiting around ALL DAY for you when you don't even show up! This is beyond rude. We could be out doing something useful but nope, we're still sitting here waiting for you.

5. Know that the seller may not be able to meet you at your most convenient time.

We have lives too. I know, I sound like a parrot, but it's true. Most of us do not make a living out of sitting here and selling animals. We more than likely have a job outside of the house and other obligations. We'll be happy to work with you to find a time that is suitable for both of us but don't get agitated when we can't immediately see you when you want us to.

6. Please do not change the appointment time right before it happens.

Life is crazy, sometimes things come up. We're people too and we get this. We'll understand if an hour before you show up you get news your aunt in sick in the hospital and you have to go there instead. That's OK. But please tell us as soon as you know so we can get on with our day too and don't let this become a habit.

I have had people switch their appointment time four times in a week. This is usually when I lose my patience with you and stop responding. I'm not the one being rude at that point - you are. Just show up already!

7. Please actually show up.

No shows are the worst! Often times they are people who have spent a whole week sending three e-mails a day asking all sorts of questions and then when they don't show up, you hear nothing—nadda, squat.

So you sit around for the next couple of hours listening to crickets chirp and wondering if you can go out of the house to buy some milk or if this person will show up out of the blue three hours late (it's happened.)

8. Please do not take an animal if you're uncomfortable with it.

So we've been through the whole process, and you're at the door, but something doesn't feel right. When you look at the animal in question you think it's acting strange, or is sick, or there's something off with the seller. If this is the case, please, DO NOT take the animal home! Yes, we spent the time going through this process with you but we don't want you to take an animal you can't deal with, don't want, or aren't comfortable with.

And in cases where the animal is actually sick, abused, etc, "rescuing" it from this situation is not going to help—it'll only encourage this person to sell more. If you feel there is a need, by all means, leave empty-handed and call the proper authorities to investigate.

Silver Penciled Rock Hen

Silver Penciled Rock Hen

9. Please do not try to talk the price down once you're there.

Breeders have their prices for reasons . . . maybe it's because of the time involved, the veterinary fees, the cost of the parent animals, the cost of the insanely pricey organic feed they were raised on, their esteemed pedigrees, you don't know.

These are animals—living breathing things. The breeder and or rescuer has put a lot of effort into. They're not a used car to be haggled over. If you're offended by their prices find someone else to get what you want.


10. Please do not make false claims.

There's always one in the crowd, it's usually someone who has given you some big long sob story, has gotten you on your better side, and gotten some animal for cheaper than they should of.

Congrats, you are now a target! These same people so frequently turn right around, accuse you of selling them sick animals, make all kinds of empty accusations about suing, and then go on line to drag your good name through as much mud as they can, publicly blasting you (usually after you've refused to pay for imaginary veterinary fees without proof or give them more animals for free.)

Every breeder I know has had to deal with at least one of these manipulative nutjobs . . . I myself had to change my phone number so they'd stop calling (repeatedly, letting the phone ring until the answering machine picked up, and then calling again, for hours at a stretch. Talk about not having a life!)

Big Red - Heritage Rhode Island Red Rooster

Big Red - Heritage Rhode Island Red Rooster

11. Please do not take an animal on false pretenses or for nefarious reasons.

I live on a farm and advertise chicks and chickens online. There's a large city within half an hour of here and guess who gets all sorts of suspicious requests for just roosters? Me. Now, I know a 17-year-old wanna-be gangsta when I see one. I also know an idiot when I see one.

They want my roosters for fighting, but they never say that, because they know it's illegal. Well! If they had any marbles in their head they'd see I eat all my mean roosters which has resulted in super docile fluffballs who could only kill each other in a staring contest.

This is not the only thing. I also placed two litters of rescued pit bull puppies once and had the same problem—people looking for fighters and bait dogs. When I sold rats it was dishonest reptile keepers I had to be leery of (which goes for the rehoming of ANY small animal—yes there are even YouTube videos up of "Python vs. Puppy")

And lastly, there are flippers. DO NOT show up at my door if your intention is to get something free or cheap to resell it for a profit. No one likes flippers or brokers. You spread disease, you don't know anything about what you're selling, and the pet community at large knows you're just a money-grubbing wastes of flesh and air.

In conclusion: If you want to buy an animal online, go for it, but make sure to do so in a civilized way. Respect the breeder or rescuer as a human being who has their own life to run, and realize the world doesn't revolve around you.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2016 Theophanes Avery


FlourishAnyway from USA on April 23, 2016:

I'm thankful you screen so well. The thought of bait animals and other sad endings makes me so upset.