Browsing "Shelter & Rescue"
Apr 10, 2014 - Shelter & Rescue    3 Comments

Fewer Puppies Entering Rescues and Shelters Is a GOOD Thing

Interesting article on the ASPCA Professional blog today.

Interesting because it acknowledges pet overpopulation trends we have been following for years:

[...] trends all point to the very real likelihood (assuming the community pulls together at least at some levels) that your community, too, will not have many puppies some day soon. Look at the following graphs showing puppy intake in 10 different communities that we partner with. You will see that in almost all, puppy intake is down.

An interesting admission, to be sure. But even more interesting is the tone of the overall blog. A cynic would say it almost sounds like they’re worried there won’t be enough homeless puppies in the future. Uh… isn’t sheltering and rescue supposed to be about putting itself out of business, not keeping its corner of the pet selling market?

If people are having trouble finding puppies in shelters, isn’t that a good thing? Yes, lip service is given to the “great news” of fewer puppies entering the sheltering system, but the author’s concern is palpable. She is clear that she wants people getting dogs from them, as opposed to the other, bad sources.

And it would be easy to infer from this blog that there is no such thing as a “good source” outside of rescue for getting a dog. Perhaps that viewpoint is the problem, why there is such concern over fewer and fewer puppies coming through the door. For when the possibility of getting a dog from a reputable breeder is finally broached near the end of the entry, it is immediately written off as a form of elitism:

Responsible breeders are expensive, and as I have said before, I personally do not think having a dog in the family should be an elite activity. The benefits of having a dog, both physically and psychologically, are too powerful to leave just to the ‘Haves.’

Interesting position to take. Especially when one can easily pay several hundred dollars to adopt a dog from a rescue — certainly not pocket change. Is paying a few hundred more for a dog from a reputable, known source, a dog with predictable traits (energy level, size, coat, etc.) really out of reach for all but the “Haves?”

This is just a strange article all-around. We at NAIA do not fret, but celebrate fewer puppies entering animal shelters and rescues, and sincerely hope the trend continues. We also celebrate puppies born to reputable breeders, living in great homes with great care their entire life, never having to be rescued and rehomed.

Dec 4, 2012 - Shelter & Rescue    4 Comments

Rescue Without a Cause

Throwing puppies from a moving car is the kind of sick behavior you’d expect from a deranged teenager or hardened criminal, not a self-proclaimed animal rescuer, but that’s what Sheriff Heath White of Torrance County says happened last November:

Torrance County Sheriff Heath White said that, in the recent case, [Debra] Swenerton was caught in the act — tossing the dogs one by one from the driver’s side window of her vehicle — by deputies who had been alerted by the puppies’ owner.

To make matters worse, authorities suspect that this isn’t an isolated incident – that Swenerton has been dognapping for years, and may be tied to nearly 60 reports of missing dogs:

Edgewood animal control officer Mike Ring said the arrest of 59-year-old Debbie Swenerton ‘really cracked the case’ of some 60 dogs that have gone missing over the past few years.

Ring believes that Swenerton stole the dogs and then gave them to shelters, saying that they were strays she had rescued. He added that there is a possibility that Swenerton belongs to a larger group of animal activists that are concerned over the treatment of pets.

Furthermore, according to Torrance County Undersherriff Martin Rivera, Swenerton repeatedly called in cases of dog abuse on owners who were taking perfectly fine care of their pets. Assuming she is behind at least some of the disappearances, it really makes you wonder what kind of conditions these missing dogs were being “rescued” from. Vigilantism is bad enough, but to “save” a perfectly well-cared-for dog, a dog who is likely a well-loved family member, and give them to a shelter that could be using resources on animals who actually need help is obscene.

Thankfully, the puppies in this instance survived with minimal injury, but you can’t help but wonder about the rest…

 


Is she really a prisoner in her own home?

 

Jul 30, 2012 - Pet Care, Shelter & Rescue    3 Comments

The Trendiest Pet?

A recent  Arizona Republic opinion piece suggests that we should view rescued pets as the new “high-end option,” that:

Taking one home gives you bragging rights in addition to a friend for life.

And it’s trendy.

It’s amazing how fast trends change nowadays. A few short years ago, everyone had to get a doodle mix so they could be just as unique as the rest of their Generation Y friends. Then along came the dog-as-purse-accessory. Remember that? But we’re so over it — the next big push for trendiness is, apparently, rescue pets.

Trendy Dog, circa 2009: in return for pampering, Gazoo provides valuable mascara warming services.

It should go without saying that getting a pet because it is the “cool thing to do” is a pretty awful idea. Whether doodle, purse dog, that purebred you just saw in a movie, or even a rescue pet, becoming a pet owner at the urging of an emotional twinge or desire for status decreases the chance of a positive outcome for all parties. Let’s say it again together for good measure: bad idea.

A realistic assessment of your ability to properly care for a pet over a lifetime and the pet’s suitability to your lifestyle should be the first, and most important considerations. If you’re seeking out a furry (or scaled or feathered) friend for life because you want something to brag about, something to win you points with your friends — sorry, but you’re doing it wrong.

If there absolutely must be a “trendiest pet” to brag about, why can’t it be that joyous companion — friend, clown, jogging partner, bacon-beggar, protector — who is chosen with careful research and foresight, who is properly and lovingly cared for his entire life? Now that kind of lifelong commitment and bond is something to be proud of.

 

Probation for Animal Transport Cruelty

Just a few of the 141 dogs found crammed in the back of Sheehan’s U-Haul

Bonnie Sheehan of the Hearts for Hounds rescue pleaded guilty to 14 misdemeanor charges tied to her January arrest, where more than 100 dogs were found crammed inside a U-Haul truck moving from California to Virginia. She received two years probation, a fine, and will not be allowed custody of any animals while on probation. Sheehan took responsibility for the abuse and decision to move the animals; all charges against co-defendant Pamela King-McCracken, a longtime Hearts for Hounds volunteer, were dismissed.

Reaction among animal lovers has been sharply divided. While the cramped, filthy trek itself is viewed with universal horror and disgust, opinions on Sheehan herself range from “It is tragic that such a well-meaning woman would make this horrible decision.” to “Put her before the Hague.”

Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, it is something we can all agree is a tragedy — something that we never want to see happen again.

 

Investigative Journalism: Humane Relocation Edition

We are so grateful for two recent news investigations describing the insidious underbelly of humane relocation.* While we have been writing about this issue for years,** it is infrequently covered in mainstream news, and rarely with as much detail as in these two investigative reports.

First, in Atlanta, a humane society imports animals for adoption from as far away as the Bahamas, while just down the road, an overflowing municipal shelter kills over 60% of the animals it receives. Granted, definitions of “adoptable pet” vary greatly from person to person, and we accept that, but it is hard to believe none of these animals are fit for adoption. Ironically, this is the exact kind of situation where importation makes perfect sense for a humane society: there are animals in desperate need only a few miles away — just think of all the gas (and more importantly, lives) they could save if they worked locally!

Adopt Me Too!
Hey guys, I’m from next door. Don’t I deserve a home, too?

It may be that the majority of local dogs are older and less attractive to adopters than the ones that can be found out of state, but seeking out the most placeable animals is what you would expect from a pet store, not a humane society. To do its job effectively and honestly, to live up to its mission statement, a humane society must focus on all animals. Even the ones that might not be adopted right away. Especially the ones that might not be adopted right away.

In the case of certain northern rescues that import dogs and cats because pet overpopulation isn’t a local issue, you can at least see the logic behind their behavior, even if it would be preferable that they focus on the root of the problem. But why import from out of state — even out of the country — when there is a crisis in your own back yard? Especially given the limited resources available and the stated goal of helping the most animals in the most efficient way possible?

And this doesn’t even begin to cover the issues of disease transmission, deception, and heartbreak that come with humane relocation. Fortunately, they were all covered brilliantly in that other expose we mentioned, so we don’t have to here.

Unfortunately, these aren’t the only tales of woe from the world of humane relocation. It has been a serious problem for more than a decade; this is why we worked in Massachusetts to help local residents regulate importing rescue groups in 2005, why we created our Shelter Import and Reporting Model Law in 2009, why we supported Connecticut’s rescue importation bill last year, and why we are simply thrilled to see this issue finally being tackled head-on in the mainstream press.

 


* “Humane Relocation” is a term describing the importation of dogs from out of state or country for adoption — a practice often referred to by its detractors as “dog trafficking.”

** A short list of previous NAIA articles on this topic:

 

HuMaine Relocation

An interesting piece on humane relocation was posted on the Bangor Daily News website last night. Apparently, Hancock County’s SPCA shelter is importing puppies from Guam to be adopted at $500 a head.

This, in and of itself isn’t that newsworthy; the importation of puppies from out of state into northeastern shelters has been going on for years. In fact, it’s something we’ve documented for more than a decade, and an issue we have actively worked on (and are working on) at the policy level. But the language used here to describe this operation is definitely worthy of note (emphasis NAIA):

The four puppies arrived by commercial airplane late Monday, the first of 12 bound from Guam to Maine this week as part of a program that is literally pushing the boundaries of what is already a thriving “dog rescue” industry in this state.

[...]

Every year, hundreds of dogs are “rescued” from overcrowded shelters in other states and brought to Maine for adoption. More than 50 organizations are licensed by the Maine Department of Agriculture to import dogs, the vast majority of which come from southern states with less aggressive spay/neutering programs and where unadopted pets face euthanasia.

But Guam? After all, the only county in the continental U.S. that juts farther east into the Atlantic than Hancock is its neighbor, Washington County. And some dogs in Maine shelters will ultimately be euthanized because they could not find homes.

Well bless you, Kevin Miller! The scare quotes used when describing this sort of “rescue” and calling it an industry certainly represent a welcome change in tone.

For its part, the shelter seems keenly aware of how the importation may be perceived, and has gone to great lengths to bring up how carefully they are following vaccination and quarantine procedures. They have also attempted to address the issue of enabling* — but the “part of the adoption proceeds go toward spaying and neutering in Guam” falls apart once you contemplate the volume necessary to make any meaningful improvements for animals. It’s great marketing, to be sure, but does it do enough to justify this irresponsible practice? Not unless they begin importing puppies by the score — which, of course, may be their ultimate goal.

 


* Enabling: the argument that importation does nothing to solve the population and policy issues plaguing the dog’s place of origin, that it is simply trades the life of one dog for another while enabling business as usual to continue.

Stray Dogs, Project Potcake, and Low-Cost Spay/Neuter

It may be hard to imagine, especially if you are living in a world with leash laws, animal control, and a culture that spays and neuters its pets, but stray dogs — not just one or two or a small pack, but thousands upon thousands – are a very real problem in many parts of the world. This is something we’ve been documenting for quite some time, an oft-neglected issue with major implications from both an animal welfare and public health and safety standpoint. Read more »

Purina Takes over for Pedigree at Westminster

Purina Takes over for Pedigree at Westminster

If you tune in to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show tonight, be prepared for a change of tone in the advertisements. Gone will be the usual ads focused on homeless dogs, sad and desperate for adoption, in will be commercials portraying happy, vibrant dogs at work and play — all types of dogs: show dogs, working dogs, rescue dogs, purebreds, mutts, therapy dogs, you name it. Read more »