Filling Empty Dog Pounds
As U.S. shelters help solve local stray problems, a Tufts expert says many are importing dogs from other countries to meet demand for animal adoptions.
Mass. At local animal shelters around the country, the dogs up for adoption may be a lot further from home than many people would imagine. With stray animals on the decline in many communities, but interest in adoption still high, a Tufts expert says many shelters are importing stray animals from around the world to meet the demand.
“Animal shelters in the USA are casting a wide net – from Puerto Rico to as far as Taiwan – to fill kennels,” reported USA Today. “Critics say many shelters have solved the stray problem in their own area – but rather than shut down, they become de facto pet stores. Some charge more than $200 per adoption for imported dogs.”
According to Tufts’ Gary Patronek – the director of Tufts’ Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tuft's School of Veterinary Medicine – U.S. shelters may be a victim of their own successes.
“The drive to have dogs spayed and neutered in the USA has cut down on unwanted litters. And adoption campaigns have helped empty dog pounds,” reported USA Today. “But [the Tufts expert says] people who want to adopt dogs increasingly find aged dogs or undesirable breeds like pit bulls at shelters.”
Imported animals are filling the demand.
“In the last seven years, one organization in Puerto Rico has shipped more than 14,000 strays to the states for adoption,” reported the newspaper. “Shipments from other countries also appear to be increasing. Most imports are small to medium-size dogs popular among adopters.”
In order to enter the U.S., the imported animals do not need to be quarantined – having certificates of good health and proof of rabies shots are sufficient.
“But Patronek said bringing dogs in from abroad runs a serious risk of importing a disease,” reported the Scottish newspaper The Scotsman.
According to the Tufts expert, “What makes it so scary is that you just don’t know what might emerge if you aren’t at least looking for it.”
And despite their similarities, shelters and pet stores have important distinctions from one another.
“Patronek says not-for-profit shelters may be chartered to insure animal welfare, but they are relatively unregulated,” reported USA Today. “Pet shops, on the other hand, generally operate under more stringent state and local regulations.”
But some pet owners don’t mind that the stray animals they’ve adopted are from other countries, not their local communities.
By Ken Schram
SEATTLE - How's this for ironic.
Here we are trying to wrestle a huge immigration issue to the ground, only to find out the Seattle Animal Shelter is importing dogs from South of the border.
The rationale: the Seattle shelter has room; the Mexican animal clinic doesn't.
The Seattle shelter can virtually guarantee the dogs that've been flown in will be adopted; the Mexican shelter would almost certainly have to euthanize them.
Imports of Overseas Pooches
Raises Health Concerns
By Crystal D. Vogt, 2005
The Boston University Statehouse Service
A shortage of adoptable puppies in Massachusetts has created a demand for homeless pooches from outside the state, including places as far away as Puerto Rico and even Angola.
But what seems like a happy humanitarian consequence of a successful spaying and neutering campaign is creating health concerns. In one case, an imported Puerto Rican puppy exposed six Bay Staters to rabies. There are also fears of dog-to-dog transmission of canine viruses.
Now the Legislature is considering a bill that would ban the importation of foreign dogs into the state for sale or adoption.
"There are major healthcare issues involved," said Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton), who filed the bill at the start of the legislative session. "There's a possibility that if these dogs are coming in and are not healthy, they will have diseases that can be transferred to people."
Khan said that many dogs are being imported from overseas into non-profit, independent shelters without sufficient proof of their health or if they have had the necessary vaccinations.
"There isn't a lot of oversight around the health of the animals when they come into the United States," said Khan, whose bill is supported by the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners. "There has to be more development of regulations around this issue."
The concerns over foreign fidos is the result of a little-known success story: the campaign to cut down on the canine birthrate in the state.
From the ASPCA web site: http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pp_transport
In some regions of the country, unplanned litters of puppies have nearly been eliminated, due to aggressive spay/neuter campaigns, and shelters in these areas are now filled with large breeds, pit bulls and guarding-breed mixes who take longer to adopt and may not be recommended for first-time guardians. Shelters in other regions—most notably the South, Southwest and rural areas throughout the country—still receive more puppies and dogs than they can place locally. Shelters where there are now shortages of puppies and small- to medium-sized dogs are turning to animal transport to rescue healthy dogs from euthanasia and to bring diversity to their adoption kennels.
The ASPCA supports the transporting of animals from overcrowded shelters to those with available space as long as the following conditions are met:
- Animals must be examined by a veterinarian, must be in good health, vaccinated, dewormed and treated for external parasites. Animals crossing state lines must have health certificates issued within 57 days of transport. Exceptions must be agreed upon by both parties.
- Animals who will need extensive medical treatment during transport should not be transported, nor should any animal with a serious communicable or infectious disease, nor any pregnant animals.
- Animals should be behaviorally assessed. Aggressive or excessively fearful animals should only be shipped if the receiving shelter offers a training/rehabilitation program and is committed to working with the animals.
- Puppies must be at least eight weeks of age or shipped as part of a litter with their mother. Mothers with pups under eight weeks should only be shipped if the receiving shelter has available foster care until the pups are fully weaned at eight weeks of age.
- Females in heat should not be transported with intact male dogs.
- Receiving shelters must have sufficient space for transported pets without displacing any healthy or treatable animals from their own communities.
- Copies of pet health records and behavior assessments must be transported with the animals.
- Animals should be caged separately unless part of a litter or a bonded pair relinquished from the same household.
- Animals should travel in stationary cages, or the crates/cages must be affixed to a stationary object.
- Animals must wear identification collars/tags.
- Transport vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected between shipments and whenever occupants change cages.
- Transport vehicles must have proper ventilation and climate control.
- Exporting shelters must have spay/neuter and education programs in place in the community that will eventually lead to the end of transport and euthanasia for lack of space.
- Stray puppies from rabies endemic areas whose vaccination history is unknown should be at least 12 weeks of age in order to receive a rabies vaccination prior to shipping.