It's an unfortunate reality that in today's society you have to err on the side of caution more often than not. We've all seen the news stories on TV, read them in the papers, or seen them online. Cases of women being kidnapped, raped, or murdered when they met someone from an online ad. Men being mugged, beaten, or killed when meeting someone to sell things they advertised online. Or children being kidnapped, molested, or murdered following their parents having someone come by the house to pick something up that was advertised online. Stories of people using online sales ads to canvas neighborhoods and come back later to burglarize homes. On the flip side, we've seen news stories of people posting looking for a babysitter only to lure, kidnap, rape, and murder the women who come to respond to the ad. People I've spoken to have lost numerous, sometimes quite expensive animals by letting people "just come by" to pick up an animal, only to have those people come back later and steal more animals. I have met people who lost entire households of pets after someone came to "look at a puppy" and introduced parvo - killing the entire litter. We've all heard the pleas of folks asking people not to give animals away for free because who knows what kind of person may gather them up and use them for target practice, or training their dog to be aggressive, or feed them to their large reptiles. I happen to have actually met one such person when I worked at the pet store - the stories are real, and it's not "just in big cities" or isolated incidences. This is becoming a serious issue.
And what is the common theme here? Online ads. Whether you are selling something or looking to buy something, it can be dangerous. You don't know who this other person is. Sure, you can talk to them on the phone, you can email back and forth, you might even look them up on social media and "Facebook stalk" them to see if they have a creep-factor. But in the end, this is someone you don't know. Would you willingly give a child molester your home address if you have children? Would you knowingly bring someone to your home who has a history of breaking and entering? How about someone who may end up stalking you, peeping in windows, or harassing you if you decline their advances? What about folks who would then turn around and do things to try to "punish" you if you didn't drop your price or declined a sale to them? I've had a few people I have met who have dealt with that one... They refused to drop the price on what they were selling and pretty soon they were getting regular visits from the police because the person who didn't get a cheap deal decided to call in various false accusations just to make the seller's life miserable.
Let me stop here. There are plenty of good people out there. A lot of kindhearted individuals who genuinely just want to buy or sell something, and have no ill will in mind (myself included). A vast majority of the people you meet will be this way. The problem is that those bad ones can seem innocuous at first. Maybe they come with a small child, maybe they give you a sad story about why they want what you're selling or why they're selling what they're offering. The problem is, you can't always tell who's the creepy person ahead of time, and once you give out your home address and invite them over, it's too late.
Yes, I am starting to sound a little paranoid now, but let me repeat - A vast majority of people you meet online are not bad people, and they mean no harm. A lot of the people you meet online are having these same thoughts, because they don't know if you might be one of those scary people.
For our household we have largely maintained a "safety first" mentality. We are a family with autism, and our home is our sanctuary. We don't want random strangers here, nor the stress of if they might be one of "those" people. We do not want to expose our animals to would-be contagions by allowing strangers on the property. We also do not want strangers on the property due to insurance issues. If my dog bites you, you step in chicken poo and ruin your shoes, you twist an ankle stepping in a hole in the yard, I'm not interested in paying for a legal team to fight off a lawsuit or having my insurance hiked because of it. We are lower income and simply can't afford the risk. Besides, having visitors gives me major anxiety attacks. Yes, even when it's people I know and trust. This is part of my PSTD brought on by Asperger's. This is part of my life.
When I post bunnies for sale, I always offer multiple cities I'm willing to travel to in order to meet people. I take photos and try to describe personalities here on the website. I am happy to take short videos of rabbits interacting with the kids or just out in the yard in case you are seriously considering adopting one. I've even been known to load up my car with a dozen bunnies to let someone pick which one they want. I think that's going above and beyond.
So please, when you respond to an ad for a bunny (or anything else for that matter) for sale, if you ask to meet at the person's house and they say no, please leave it at that. I've had two people this week try to badger me into letting them come over. The answer is no. No, I will not give you our address, and no, you cannot just wander through the barn to pick out a bunny you like. If that makes you uncomfortable, I understand. You are always welcome to find another rabbit breeder who is willing to let strangers come to their home and walk through their home or barn, potentially exposing their animals to illnesses and diseases, and potentially putting themselves, their family, and their property at risk. It's not going to happen here.
I don't mean to be rude, and I hope that nobody takes offense at this post. Please use it to consider your own safety when dealing with random people you meet on the internet. Police advise people to meet in public places that are well lit and have security cameras. Many police stations have even offered open places right in front of their locations which are "safe zones" to meet people. Women are advised to bring someone with them, always carry a cell phone and be alert of your surroundings. I will never schedule a meeting without my husband or someone else with me. It's a safety issue. Yes, this means I might not be able to meet you "right now" or "this evening," because I'm at the mercy of his work schedule. I do apologize for the inconvenience. That said, I'd rather be too cautious than dealing with the consequences of not being careful enough.