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'Free to a good home' is a phrase you hear a lot when people are giving things away. For example, if they're offloading a bunch of clothes that their kids have outgrown, or they have spare tickets to a gig that they want a real fan to enjoy - and it's a perfect phrase in that context.
But when you're trying - for whatever reason - to find a new home for your dog, it's something you should never say. And while this cautionary tale pertains to canines specifically, it goes without saying that, if you want to find the best possible forever home for your cat, it's good advice to follow for them, too.
This particular warning comes from an animal rescue shelter in Queensland, after they took in a dog that - having been given away 'free to a good home' - is believed to have then been used as a bait dog to train fighting dogs.
Trixie, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier/Rottweiler cross, was advertised via Facebook as a 'young, loving six-month-old pup', but once she was picked up, her new owners blocked her previous one.
She turned up soon after at a pound with a severely swollen face from injuries she'd sustained.
After the incident, the staff at Brisbane's Happy Tails Animal Rescue have warned pet owners that if they want or need to get their pet rehomed, it's much better to use a route that can ensure the safety and well-being of the animal in question.
Posting to Facebook, the organisation wrote: "THIS IS WHY YOU NEVER GIVE YOUR DOG AWAY 'FREE TO GOOD HOME'.
"Trixie is a young, loving 6 month old pup who has already seen the absolute horrors this world has to offer. Happy Tails received the message that her old owner couldn't care for her so gave her away on a Facebook page to what he thought was a 'good home'.
"The people who posed as a 'good home' promptly blocked Trixie's old owner so he couldn't check in on her... and 2 weeks passed by before Trixie showed up at the local pound with horrific facial injuries.
"In the below photo you can see how swollen this poor baby's face was... she shows signs of being used as a 'bait dog' to train dog fighting dogs.
"We cannot even fathom the horror and pain this girl may have endured in those 2 weeks after she was given to a 'good home'.
"As soon as we heard about Trixie's story, we picked her up from the pound and had her driven the 6 hour trip to Brisbane. As you can see in yesterday's photos, her swelling has gone down but there is still a lot of scarring and we are keeping her on medication and she is currently at our vets getting another check up."
In a later update, Happy Tails added: "Happy Tails is pleased to report that after a fruitful and encouraging exchange with the RSPCA about Trixie, they are now taking the lead in the investigation into her alleged mistreatment. Trixie is responding well to treatment.
"Trixie's story has been spread far and wide on social media which underlines the depth of feeling in the community when it comes to the poor treatment of animals. This truly is an educative moment for all of us.
"Thank you to the RSPCA for investigating and all concerned. We share the same goal - safety and love for our furry friends. Happy Tails will continue to update you on Trixie's progress."
So if, for whatever reason, you need to rehouse your pet, it's definitely a good idea not to advertise them for free on Facebook or sites like Gumtree. Instead, go through an organisation that will make sure they are actually happy in their home.
We wish Trixie the best in her new home when she finds it.
Featured Image Credit: Happy Tails Animal Rescue Inc
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