Browsing "Shelter & Rescue"
Jan 29, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    5 Comments

Hypocrisy on Parade: Another Call for Breeding Dogs in Shelters

Hypocrisy on parade in The Coming Shelter Dog Shortage, complete with ideas on how shelters can retain their “market share” in dogs:

The ideal thing would be for No Kill to find some way to co-opt the industry – to make sure there is a big enough supply of shelter dogs for community No Kill shelters to be able to maximize their market share. The most obvious way to do this would be to start importing homeless dogs from overseas.

[…]

Another way to tackle the problem would be for volunteers to breed litters which would then be donated to their local shelter for placement.

What? What… What?!?

On one hand, the author talks about dogs not being widgets… on the other, about shelters keeping or growing their market share. The argument for shelters breeding and placing puppies is one long advertising pitch!

Here’s a novel idea: if there is a shortage of dogs in shelters, rejoice! Then refocus on cats and other pets… and when that problem is solved, be thankful for all the amazing hard work you, big-hearted pet-owners, breeders, and lawmakers have put into creating a world where pets are no longer euthanized for space — and put a “closed” sign on the front door.

Jan 26, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    1 Comment

Concerns About Dog Trafficking Go Mainstream: NAIA Rejoices

Midway through another report on a northeastern shelter importing nearly two thirds of their dogs to meet the public’s demand for pets, we came across this comment from a representative of the AVMA and rejoiced:

There are no federal laws regulating the state-to-state transport of animals for adoption and that has some animal welfare advocates worrying about pet trafficking and the spread of diseases. Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, Chair of the Animal Welfare Committee for the American Veterinary Medical Association and Vice President of animal welfare for the Animal Rescue League of Boston, says guidelines should be developed by veterinarians to ensure the welfare of transported animals.

“There are people who would take advantage of people’s desire for a puppy and so there are some organizations that are simply bringing up truck loads of puppies because they can be sold – even a mutt – can be sold for $400, $500, $600 hundred dollars,” said Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore.

It is so great to hear somebody from the AVMA say this. Dog trafficking is a topic we have long been passionate about at NAIA, and for numerous serious reasons:

  • The emergence or reemergence of communicable diseases into new areas from sick dogs
  • Adoptable local dogs being displaced  — maybe not as small or cute as the dogs coming in, but they need homes too!
  • Unknown, non-communicable diseases in adopted dogs
  • Temperament issues
  • It sustains the myth of pet dog overpopulation, rather than the far more nuanced and regional population issues we face today.
  • A general lack of transparency
  • Transports that don’t (and don’t have to) follow the humane transport laws that govern others who ship large numbers of dogs
  • Ethical questions raised: are some transporters “profiting off the misery” of source areas with overcrowded shelters by moving a few “choice” (i.e. easily adoptable) dogs, while doing nothing to reduce or end the problem of unwanted adoptable dogs at its source?
  • There are also, coincidentally, a large number of pets stolen from source areas, a concern that is tied to “a general lack of transparency.”

We have been beating this drum for more than 15 years. In 2003, when NAIA was quoted in a front-page USA Today article on humane relocation, people called us crazy (and worse!), but concerns have gone mainstream as the public has become more educated and experienced negative consequences.

 For further reading:

Nonsurgical Pet Sterilization: With Great Power…

Another day, another story about nonsurgical pet sterilization.

This is always exciting news. A one-time injection would be so much simpler than surgical sterilization: non-invasive, painless, easier for both animals and the people who care for them.

The vast majority of owned pets in the United States are already spayed or neutered, but the majority of strays and animals taken in by rescues or shelters are not (think: feral cats) — and they need to be sterilized before being released (TNR) or adopted out. It is easy to do the math and see how this could make life easier for everybody.

Of course, if sterilization becomes as easy as administering a shot, it is just as easy to do the math and see how this could be a bad thing in the hands of an overzealous or immoral person.

As always, exciting news that should be tempered with an ounce of caution. As a great philosopher once said: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Cat Outdoors

Seized Pups Returned: Change on the Way?

Remember that story we talked about last week where a man was arrested for “illegally breeding Bulldogs” without a $25 license? Where instead of a clear explanation of the law followed by a warning or citation, eight beautiful (and completely healthy) puppies were snatched away from their rightful home?

Well, we are happy that we can say the puppies were all returned to their home yesterday!

In response to this fiasco, Alderman Harold Beadling suggested making changes to the breeding ordinance, saying “I think we can craft a much better ordinance than what we have,” and hey — we couldn’t agree more!


When it can take weeks to see official action taken on a shivering, short-haired dog, kept outside virtually 24/7 during a cold snap, yet you have people lining up from all around the country to help seize puppies that are in no imminent danger, you really do have to wonder where people’s heads are, if not their hearts.

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Jan 2, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    9 Comments

Starting 2015 with Long-Needed Conversations

NAIA President Patti Strand spoke on two extremely important animal welfare issues in recent NPR articles:

 

We strongly believe that having a serious, factual, and civil discussion about these issues will result in the improved welfare, health, and retention of pets everywhere. We are thrilled to kick off the new year with vital issues like these!

 

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Jul 23, 2014 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Supply, Demand, and Puppy Progress.

In Duluth, Minnesota, demand for puppies now outstrips the number available for adoption in rescues and shelters. This is great progress, accomplished though outreach and education, and mirrors patterns seen in many other American communities over the last two decades.

The celebration does not come without its share of frets, however:

Some worry, though, that without more adoptable puppies in the system, families inadvertently are being funneled into using puppy mills and other forms of unethical breeders.

Of course all animal lovers would like to see puppies come from only the most humane and ethical sources possible, so this concern may seem valid at first glance (indeed, in a perfect world, all puppies would come from conscientious breeders, live their entire lives with loving, responsible owners, and there would be no need for rescue at all), but if you think about the statement for a moment, it really begins to collapse in upon itself.

After all, if there were still enough adoptable puppies in the system to meet demand, that would be an indication that all the wonderful hard work that has gone into owner education, spay-neuter efforts, and making adoption a viable and appealing option for so many families had fallen short. Simply put: if you do have enough adoptable puppies to meet demand, there are still a lot of people in your community producing litters who shouldn’t be. This isn’t responsible, and it certainly isn’t good for the welfare of dogs. Unless the goal is to sell puppies, not having enough is a pretty darn good “problem” to have.

Perhaps hard to believe, but in some settings, too few puppies is actually a good thing...

It may be hard to believe… but in some settings, too few puppies is a very, very good thing!

 

There are countless reputable, responsible breeders, just as there are countless reputable, responsible rescues and shelters. Whether a potential owner chooses a breeder or a shelter as their source, our hope is that they do their homework and support the best option available.

Jul 15, 2014 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

You Don’t Have to Be Perfect…

You’ve seen those cute “You Don’t Have to be Perfect to Be a Perfect Parent” PSAs from AdoptUSKids, right?

If you have, and if you are like us, you immediately re-imagined them from the angle of  pet adoption.

We are all fallible; there is no such thing as a “perfect pet owner,” but we do believe there are more than enough perfect matches out there, more than enough perfect homes available for all adoptable pets.

Coming from this belief, the question becomes: how can rescues and shelters screen potential owners to maximize chances of that “perfect match?” Where is that ideal middle ground between the extremes of insulting, arbitrary reasons not to allow adoptions, and shipping animals hundreds of miles, then simply handing them off to strangers in a parking lot?

Our hats are off to all who strive to find that balance, to all who understand that great homes come in many different varieties — or to steal a line from those PSAs, that understand “you don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect pet owner.”

Potential adopters have been turned down due to age, but there are now forward-thinking programs that match seniors with pets

Hopeful adopters have been turned down due to age, but there are now several forward-thinking programs that match seniors with pets

Jun 14, 2014 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

The Drama of Animal Transport

Here is a provocative take on rescue transports (what we refer to at NAIA as “humane relocation”) from Animal Ark that was published several months ago.

Particularly interesting is the author’s observation of the inherent drama that accompanies animal transport, as opposed to boring ol’ local adoptions:

And, lets face it: long-distance “rescues” are much more dramatic than local ones. It is easier, therefore, to get high-profile PR for them, like this spot on Anderson Cooper about a celebrity who paid to have dogs flown from California to a no kill shelter in New York. Note: While it is nice the rescuer flew the dogs to a no kill shelter in New York, no one seems to wonder why the no kill shelter took the animals, instead of simply driving over to New York Animal Control to rescue more dogs from death row there? You can bet that the PR for both the “rescuer” and the receiving shelter had a lot to do with it.

This is so obvious, but a point that isn’t made often enough — you have heroic people who drive or fly all day, and brave dogs on a journey from likely death into a loving home — it’s so much easier to put a face and story behind a dog you adopted from 1,000 miles away than a dog you simply picked out from the local shelter. And oftentimes, these dogs with the great backstory are marketed as being smaller (read: more desirable for many adopters), and you can pick them up with less paperwork and hassle than you can from the local rescue or shelter.

Which is great for the dogs that are being transported… not so great for your local dogs who still need homes or for solving problems at their source.

girlAndSmallDog

Let me tell you the story of Rocket…

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    5 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?

 

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