Browsing "Shelter & Rescue"
Oct 12, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    5 Comments

Big Business: More Dog Trafficking in the News

Humane relocation, dog trafficking, the “Puppy Pipeline” — whatever you call it, the practice is still relatively unknown outside of the organized animal community and to a lesser extent, law enforcement and media circles. In case you are scratching your head wondering what we are talking about, here’s a handy definition from the NAIA Shelter Project Glossary:

Humane relocation: Humane relocation refers to the practice of transporting un-owned pets in need of adoption (primarily dogs and cats) from areas with a surplus of homeless pets to areas with a higher demand for pets and more shelter and rescue space. When done responsibly, it is a cooperative, common-sense method of finding homes for pets that might otherwise be euthanized. When done without care, it does nothing to solve the problem of pet overpopulation at its source, and in some cases even encourages it. Worse, it can turn participating rescues and shelters into unregulated pet stores that deal in animals of unknown backgrounds – animals that may have serious behavioral problems or may be infected with parasites and diseases not endemic to a particular region (e.g. whip worm, heart worm, or rabies).

But it is appearing in the news with increasing frequency as sales of these dogs increase:

Dog sellers present the canines with heart-tugging tales of Southern kill shelters. They also describe residents of the South as uninterested in preventing unwanted puppies through regular spaying and neutering.

This is big money: at $300 per dog, a rescue operation that does not give the animals proper medical attention or humane transport conditions can make $420,000 a year for 1,400 dogs, said Raymond Connors, an animal control officer for the state.

“It’s a multimillion-dollar industry,” he said.

Industry indeed — and it’s not just dogs moving from the south to the northeast, as is most often reported, it is a multimillion-dollar national industry. Using Colorado as an example, the number of dogs imported into Colorado shelters nearly doubled between 2012 and 2014, to more than 24,000 dogs per year!


Given the unknown background, and behavioral issues of so many of these dogs and the way they are shipped, the issues of health, humane treatment, and consumer protection should be clear. The potential for this practice to impact the image of ethical rescue and pet ownership in general (e.g. avoiding rescues out of fear of health or behavioral issues, or deciding not to have pets at all) should not be discounted either.

As always, NAIA urges you to consider the source when picking your next pet: do your homework, support practices that create positive outcomes for pets and pet owners, and make an informed, ethical decision!

A well-trained dog is a happy dog!

We always try to head off for the weekend on a positive note, but it’s rare we find something that makes us smile this much

Yes, it’s a tale as old as time itself: retired farmer takes in homeless dogs, welds together wheel and barrel, ties together and fills with dogs, then pulls with tractor for a trip to the local creek.

You know — the usual!

So what are your plans when you retire?


Sep 24, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Shelter Accused of Deceiving Adopters After Dog Attack

From an Inside Edition headline: an Albuquerque, NM shelter is accused of adopting out dangerous dogs and deceiving well-meaning pet adopters. Furthermore, instead of euthanizing these dogs after the attack, the shelter allegedly handed the dogs off to private rescues:

But after one dog named Pappy killed a neighbor’s poodle and attacked its elderly owner, Animal Welfare ultimately handed over the dog to a private animal rescue group, which isn’t required to report where he is now.

Another animal, Mugsy Malone, went on to attack a three-year-old girl.

“It was horrible,” Ludwick said. “Her face was ripped up. The father had to hit the dog repeatedly with a rock trying to get the dog off of his child’s face.”

After the attack, the dog was never put down, he said.

“It was given to a rescue group,” he said. “That dog should have been euthanized.”

There are definitely some issues with this article — while the dog’s listed breed may have been altered to make it more adoptable, focusing on the breed (implying that the dog’s aggression was due to it being a pit bull, and links to two sensationalist articles on pit bulls) rather than the dog’s behavior is problematic. This, however, should not cause us to lose sight of the main — and very serious — issue of dangerous dogs being adopted out to unsuspecting families.



Sep 18, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Foreign Dogs Good; U.S. Dogs Bad: Radical Dog Trafficking Continues

After feverishly working to eliminate local pet stores over their alleged inhumane sourcing of dogs, look who is importing dogs into the United States from Korea for the pet trade:

San Diego Humane Society takes custody of 29 dogs from the Korean meat trade.

Sounds like a great cause and makes for great press and fundraising opportunities — but whatever they claim as their primary motive for doing this, it certainly cannot be:

  • Protecting consumers and pets from zoonotic and infectious diseases (as you may remember, Korea was the source of a major canine influenza outbreak earlier this year)
  • Providing consumers with humanely sourced pets
  • A desire to provide the public with healthy, well-socialized dogs


So if humane societies are so hard up for dogs to adopt that they are importing from overseas, is it safe to assume we have solved all of our domestic pet problems? If so, the humane industry should quit pushing ordinances putting regulated, American sources of pets out of business.

Aug 17, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    1 Comment

NAIA Perspective on No-Kill Philosophy in the News

In a Garden Island article on euthanasia and the no-kill philosophy last weekend, NAIA president Patti Strand weighed in on the consequences of focusing on numbers over real solutions:

If [the Kauai Humane Society] were pressured to “have better numbers,” Strand said it would be impossible to do so without ample funding and effort to fix the symptoms. And that’s something she said can’t be done overnight.

“What happens is the value of saving the life of the dog is valued more highly than the value of protecting an adoptive family from a dangerous dog,” Strand said. “It’s this idea that, ‘’Gee whiz, I’d like to save this dog and he’s only nipped someone once,’ that can have real consequences.”

One of the best examples comes out of New Mexico, where the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department last year permitted more than 100 dangerous dogs to be adopted by families or returned to them after they failed nationally recognized behavioral tests.

The result was tragic: Dozens of these dogs killed or injured other pets, bit children, attacked their owners or displayed otherwise aggressive behavior.
“All across the country, dangerous dogs that should not be adopted out to the public today and wouldn’t have been adopted out 10 years ago are being adopted out,” Strand said. “The reason is this idea that there are numbers every shelter should be hitting, and it’s not that black and white. Not every community is ready to be no-kill. It’s not a switch that can just be flipped.

“I’m absolutely in favor of the wholesome goal that’s attached to the no-kill label, but you have to look below the surface to see how it’s being applied.”

As always, the focus should be striving for the best possible standards of care — in home and in shelters — on cooperation, public education, and outreach; improvements in “the numbers” will flow naturally from those goals and improvements.

There are now many communities in the United States with open-admission shelters that do not kill for lack of space — this was considered “impossible” 40 years ago, and speaks to the tireless efforts of education and outreach, changing culture, and improved standards of care

Jul 24, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    3 Comments

Judge Orders Champion Sheltie Returned Home

Piper, a champion Sheltie co-owned by Veronica Covatch and Michelle Wilson, has been away from her family for far, far too long, but at least now she can stay with her original owner while the legal fight between Piper’s owners and an out of control rescue group heads toward a trial. An order from an irritated judge made it happen:

“Let me tell you something,” Brandt interrupted. “These people have been without their animal for over a year. OK? So they get their dog back today.”

Of course this tale is not over yet, and Covatch says she has already spent $100,000 in legal fees, but today’s news is great for Piper, Covatch, Wilson — and everybody who cares about the rights of pet owners and reuniting this dog with her family!


Jun 29, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    2 Comments

Palm Beach Pet Importation Battle Continues

For more than a decade, NAIA has been writing on the issue of humane relocation/dog trafficking: see Humane or Insane to Disparage – Regulate – Prohibit – Monopolize, to Mission Creep. We are so pleased to see such an excellent article on this subject in a mainstream publication:

Puppy importing pits Palm Beach County versus rescue groups

Instead of bringing in “fluffy, white dogs,” rescue groups should do more for local dogs “that are really in need,” said Dianne Sauve, the county’s director of animal care and control.

“You are either dedicated to helping dogs in your community or you are dedicated to stocking your shelves with a product that sells quickly,” Sauve said.

It is great to see so-called humane relocation becoming a mainstream news story. Us “animal people” can talk about this until we are blue in the face, but until it becomes a mainstream issue that the media, lawmakers, and casual pet owners/animal lovers are aware of and concerned about, it is going to be so much more talk than action. Here is to greater awareness and change leading to smarter and more ethical practices and policies!

It is easy to sell smaller dogs and puppies shipped in from out of the area, but it does nothing to help local dogs find homes.

Selling cute, smaller dogs and puppies shipped in from out of the area is easy, but it does nothing to help local dogs find homes.

Jun 4, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Mayor Issues Challenge to Rescue Groups: Stop Importing While Local Dogs Are Still Dying

Palm Beach County wants rescue groups to stop importing animals until the county shelter can find homes for at least 90% of the dogs and cats it receives. County Mayor Shelley Vana held a press conference Tuesday, challenging rescue groups (who have ignored the request to stop importing animals) with “uncomfortable truths.”

What happens when those well-meaning rescue groups or private shelters in our own community choose instead to import dogs and puppies to Palm Beach County? What message is being sent to would-be adopters? What happens when those at-risk at animal care and control are bypassed for animals that are flown in? The truth is often uncomfortable. Importing puppies and dogs into Palm Beach County while dogs in own shelter die, means that some groups are simply stocking their shelves with those dogs that are easily adoptable at a high fee. And while these importations generate lots of publicity and revenue for local shelters [and rescues], how does it benefit those dogs that are going to die here? I am challenging each rescue group that has signed onto Count Down to Zero to stop bringing dogs in from other regions, at least until we have reached a 90% save rate here in Palm Beach county.

Very powerful statement! Huge kudos to Mayor Vana for recognizing this as a serious issue and being unafraid to speak out!

May 18, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    2 Comments

A Humane Society Calls out the “Retail Rescuers”

Last week, we read some heavy straight-talk from Charlene Marchand and Ron Perez of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA regarding the irresponsible and cynical importation of rescue animals, and the effect it has on the chances of local dogs. Given how often we report on this issue, it was tempting to leave this alone in favor of other stories, but we kept coming back to it. In the end, their story was too important for us not to share.

This zinger, illustrating the frustration when progress in animal welfare meets cynical opportunism, is worth the price of admission:

Didi Kline, founder of CGHS/SPCA, would have never dreamed that dogs 10 years or older would be finding second homes. And even the once loved, frequently ignored and often feared “pitbulls” (a loose term referring to bulldog and bull terrier types and mixes) were being adopted — and the owners found them to be incredible companions. Then, everything changed again when “rescues” in the northeast started importing dogs from the southeast, Puerto Rico, Mexico and even Russia! Why? There were still dogs here in the northeast that needed homes. The answer is: money! I once said that if there was money to be made in animal welfare, there’d be a shelter on every corner. Well, now there is.

First off, it takes guts to call it as you see it. It really does, especially when it comes to animal welfare and rescue issues, where even the slightest of disagreements can lead to a lifetime of name-calling and ostracism. This is an issue we have covered regularly for more than a decade, and we know all too well how some people perceive the criticism of certain bad practices as an indictment of all rescue — the responses can be downright vicious. Secondly: bravo! What a breath of fresh air. We share their frustration and couldn’t agree more with the sentiment.

What a great piece. The only thing we’d add is that when helping other regions of the US, efforts must also be made at the source of the population surplus: education and “changing the culture,” accessible low-cost spay/neuter options, enforceable roaming/leash laws, etc. Without those efforts — which have worked wonders in many parts of the country — animal rescuers are put in a position of perpetually exporting one region’s problems into another. As always, the end goal should be finding permanent, caring homes for every healthy and safe pet, until we reach a point where private rescues and shelters are no longer necessary.