Browsing "Shelter & Rescue"

British Veterinary Association warning on “Trojan dogs”

The United States is not the only country facing the burgeoning problems associated with unregulated international dog rehoming. Canada’s importation system has been described as little more than self-reporting, and has brought diseases that affect humans, pets, and wildlife into the country. Norway has gotten ahead of the issue and banned street dogs from entering the country. Now, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is making its position on the issue clear, using the term “Trojan dogs” — apt and definitely not a phrase you’ll soon forget.

A ‘Trojan dog’ is a stray dog with an unknown health history that has been brought into the UK for rehoming. These dogs are of particular concern as they are very likely to be carrying infections which are common abroad, including in continental Europe as well as farther afield, but which we are free of in the UK. These infections may cause serious and fatal diseases in dogs which may affect not only the imported dog but could be transmitted to other untravelled dogs. In this way the owner of such a dog could unintentionally introduce a new and dangerous infectious disease into the UK to which our native dogs have no immunity. Moreover, some of these infections can infect humans.

The BVA, to its credit, recognizes both the kindness that inspires people to adopt dogs from abroad, while speaking in plain, no-holds language of the threats posed by this type of irresponsible rehoming.

The growing understanding of the dangers surrounding irresponsible pet importation make it a serious issue anywhere new (or previously conquered) infectious diseases can be introduced.

Diseases like brucellosis can be difficult to diagnose and are very contagious.


Aug 31, 2018 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Genetic Breed Testing of Shelter Dogs Counters Commonly-Repeated Myth

HSUS and other fundraising groups have repeated the mantra that “25% of dogs in shelters are purebreds” for so long, it has become a commonly accepted truth. Because the statement never matched up with the experiences of our board members, volunteers, and supporters who work in shelters, we felt the need to investigate the issue. This led to our 2015 survey, which found that the number of purebred dogs in shelters is closer to 5% (5.04%).

This week, another study on shelter dog populations was released out of Arizona State: A canine identity crisis: Genetic breed heritagetesting of shelter dogs, and its findings were quite interesting (emphasis ours):

We found that over 100 breed signatures were identified at each shelter in our genetic breed testing with over 91 breeds shared between sites. Breed ancestries ranged from having one to five unique breed signatures identified (7%). On average, purebreds represented less than 5% of dogs tested with individuals most often having three breed signatures identified within their genetic heritage. In order of prevalence at AAWL and SDHS, American Staffordshire Terrier, Chihuahua, and Poodle were the most common breeds identified.

This is a thorough and well-written study in its own right, but what is so fascinating and valuable about this to us is that two different groups, using different methodologies came to nearly identical conclusions. Finding solutions to the issues facing pets and animal lovers becomes much easier when we know the truth of what we are dealing with.

Dispelling myths surrounding the issues facing animals and the people who care for them makes finding positive solutions much easier!

Oregon Humane Society investigation alleges unethical and unlawful practices

The law-enforcement credentials of the Oregon Humane Society (OHS) have been suspended pending an investigation into mishandled evidence and improper investigative techniques.

Reporting “unethical and unlawful practices,” law enforcement officer and former OHS special agent Ulli Neitch alleges:

…that in the two years she worked for OHS, she saw a failure to maintain a chain of custody on evidence, improper storage of evidence, disregard for officer safety, and violation of Fourth Amendment rights, among other concerns detailed in a 44-page document. 

An especially disturbing accusation in Neitch’s report is that OHS chose to ignore some animal welfare complaints, yet instructed her to seize evidence without a warrant in another. This, in particular, highlights the dangers of giving law-enforcement powers to private organizations.


In the United States, humane societies were originally given police powers in the 19th-century, in large part because animal welfare issues weren’t a high priority with the public at the time. Because of this, there were few animal welfare laws, and few animal control agencies to enforce them. Granting humane societies police powers allowed politicians to focus their attention on issues of greater importance to their constituents.

ASPCA Law Enforcement badge. 1866-2013.

Of course, we’re not living in 1879 anymore. Attitudes and priorities have shifted radically; today, nearly every large city in the United States has a duly-appointed government animal control agency with police powers to handle cases of animal neglect and abuse. In the simplest terms, this assures that animal control is accountable to the public it serves, rather than to a private nonprofit’s mission statement and board of directors.

So long as there are local adoptable homeless pets, NAIA wholeheartedly supports the sheltering and adopting of animals by humane societies. But we consider the suspension of OHS’s law enforcement powers appropriate and overdue. NAIA has long supported the transfer of police powers to government agencies and away from all private nonprofit groups, believing that such groups have inherent conflicts of interest, which are amplified by mission zeal and lack of direct accountability.

 

Jul 9, 2018 - Shelter & Rescue    2 Comments

Careless rescue importation exposes people to zoonotic disease

More troubling news from the wild world of rescue import has been picked up by the Worms & Germs blog: a rescue dog with a known history of chronic health issues is imported into a private U.S. shelter from Thailand and tests positive for Melioidosis, a nasty zoonotic bacterial disease. This discovery leads to several potentially exposed people receiving blood tests (one showed signs of exposure, but none got sick), and ultimately the euthanasia of the dog.

 

Melioidosis is bad news.

The plea for common sense from Worms & Germs author, Scott Weese (Ontario Veterinary College – University of Guelph), could have been written by us:

Logical importation practices are needed. How much time and expense went into shipping a paralysed dog transcontinentally from one shelter to another, when it was ultimately euthanized in the end anyway? I realize everything is done with good intentions, but thank about what could have been done for local homeless animals with the time, effort and expenses that were incurred here.

Dr. Weese generously labels the shelters and importers as well intentioned. But honestly, there must be a point where, when operations are carried out with such casual disregard for the health of shipped and local dogs (and adopters), where intentions can not be labeled as “good” — or at the end result is so damaging as to make intentions irrelevant.

Rescue importation, fueled by a lack of adoptable local dogs in many parts of the U.S. and the power of social media, has grown by leaps and bounds over the last two decades while U.S. dog import laws have not been updated since 1956. As a result, we are seeing dogs arrive here with everything from canine brucellosis, rabies, and the canine flu, to parasites and other vector-borne diseases. These are very serious issues, which is why NAIA has been working to modernize dog import laws for the last several years. For more information, contact Patti Strand, NAIA President, at naia@naiaonline.org.

 

Apr 19, 2018 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Open Letter To the Editor (Retail Rescue Exposé)

The National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) applauds the Washington Post exposé by Kim Kavin (April 11, 2018) detailing the corrupt practices of rescues and shelters buying dogs at auction from the same breeders they disparage as puppy mills, then transporting them cross-country where they market these same dogs as “rescues.”

Sadly, these deceitful practices are hallmarks of today’s so-called “humane movement,” which at best is well-intentioned but reckless, and at worst, shows an inhumane and potentially lethal combination of misanthropy and greed.

The push by BIG HUMANE (large, wealthy animal rights groups and shelters), to promote rescue dogs as the humane alternative to pet stores and other sources of dogs is a strategic and cynical campaign to eliminate marketplace competitors. While the majority of pet stores are regulated by local and state law, rescues and shelters operate largely without regulation or government oversight.

If the dishonesty, hypocrisy and the inherent conflicts of interest present in this movement aren’t enough to alarm the public, the risks to both people and pets should be. The health and safety threats posed by the unregulated pet rescue marketplace have continued unabated for far too long and have already had dire consequences.

It is our hope that Kavin’s article in The Washington Post, will help foster a more informed dog-buying public and more rigorous scrutiny of the “rescue relocation” movement and BIG HUMANE from local, state and federal policymakers.

NAIA strongly supports responsible pet rescue and community-based programs focusing on education, sensible regulations, and enforcement as a proven means of solving problems related to surplus dogs and dog retention. We believe responsible rescuers have played the key role in solving pet overpopulation in many regions of the United States; they serve as both inspirations and models for the tireless work they have done — and continue to do.


For more information on this and other important animal welfare issues, please contact NAIA:

Phone: (503) 761-8962
Email: naia@naiaonline.org

NAIA believes that to animal welfare issues should be humanely and intelligently solved at the source whenever possible, not exploited for economic or political agendas.

 

Mar 16, 2018 - Shelter & Rescue    1 Comment

Adopting Out Dangerous Dogs: Common Sense Shouldn’t Be Uncommon

A $750 fine, and barred from adopting or importing dogs into Virginia for two years. Is that penalty enough for adopting out a dog with a known bite history that ended up killing a 90 year-old woman?

Records showed that before coming to Virginia Beach, Blue had been surrendered to a New York City shelter for biting a child. The records also showed that Forever Home had adopted Blue out to another Virginia Beach woman before the fatal attack, but she returned the dog after he bit her.

The rescue group didn’t report the bite as the law requires. Colvin’s daughter, Linda Patterson, said she also was not told of the dog’s bite history. She filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Forever Home in August and is seeking $5 million in damages.

When a tragic story like this comes out, it is easy to get caught up in arguments over interpretations of no-kill philosophy, the limits of rehabilitation, or attacking individual breeds of dog.

When we circle our philosophical and ethical wagons, it is easy to forget that there are very simple ways of reducing the occurrences of horrible incidents like these. For starters: keeping better and more open records and reporting a dog’s prior history to the public. So often, when a serious bite occurs after an adoption, it is uncovered after that the fact that the dog has a history of aggression. The last time a dog bites and injures somebody is usually not the first time it has shown aggression, and this is something people (typically previous rescues or owners) are all too often aware of. All adopters, public or private, have a responsibility to keep dangerous dogs from being adopted to the public.

This is an issue NAIA has been on top of for awhile. We have spoken out on this issue and supported sensible legislation that would require adopters to disclose bite histories. Our lives will never be entirely free from risk, but when risk can be reduced simply through behaving responsibly and sharing information, there is no good excuse not to.

Below are a few previous articles on this issue our president, Patti Strand has written or been quoted in:

Patti Strand: More regulations needed for animal shelters and rescues

Massive, unregulated networks move dogs into Virginia to save them from death. Some worry it’s putting people at risk

NAIA supports Virginia SB 571 (disclosure of bite history)

 

Jan 11, 2018 - Shelter & Rescue    3 Comments

Veterinarian Speaks Out About Dangerous Adoption Practices

After speaking out over conditions at the Muskingum County Dog Warden & Adoption Center with county commissioners, Dr. Brian Williams is hopeful that positive changes will occur.

At the core of the veterinarian’s frustration is the issue of adopting out dogs that are known to be aggressive:

“It was supposed to be my decision if an animal was adopted,” Williams said. “The warden continues to adopt dogs out after I have flagged them as bite dogs,” he continued.

Some of these dogs were adopted and returned more than once because they proved to be aggressive, according to Williams.

“One dog was brought into my clinic by the owner to be euthanized. It had already been returned by two previous owners and she didn’t want it to be adopted a fourth time knowing how aggressive it was.”

This carelessness is obviously an immediate risk to public safety (there are, unfortunately, numerous examples to choose from), but as a trend, it also threatens the mission of rescue as a whole. Adopting out aggressive dogs because one desires to be more “humane” or to increase live release rates accomplishes neither goal. As family members, including pets, are harmed, word inevitably gets out, and every incident that occurs tarnishes the reputation of rescue among prospective adopters. And when people opt out of adoption because they are concerned about dogs with dangerous behavioral issues, it harms rescues’ goal of finding homes for all healthy, adoptable pets. We hope Dr. Williams’ concerns are taken seriously and addressed.

 

 

Run For Research Awareness!

Run For Research Awareness!

Registration is now OPEN to anyone, anywhere! Visit the link below to sign-up for the Homes for Animal Heroes Virtual 5K and become a Fundraiser as a Team Captain, join an existing team, or make a donation!

Homes for Animal Heroes Virtual 5k

5k

Virtually every treatment, cure, vaccine, diagnostic and surgical procedure available today has been made possible through research involving animals. If you have ever taken cold or allergy medicine, used an asthma inhaler, had an x-ray, been treated for cancer, received insulin, taken antibiotics (just to name a few), YOU have directly benefited from research involving animals.

Homes for Animal Heroes (HAH) is a national network that works with the research community to rehome former research dogs into their forever homes, and share the TRUTH about biomedical research! We need your support in order to expand the HAH network and rehome animal heroes in every US state!

Click here to JOIN the RACE to Rehome Animal Heroes & Raise Awareness for Research!

Also: don’t forget to visit the Homes for Animal Heroes website and to like the Homes for Animal Heroes Facebook page!

Sep 19, 2016 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Risks of unfettered dog importation recognized by Canadian veterinarians

Just a quick shout-out here for the veterinarians and other experts in Canada who are speaking out on the risks associated with willy-nilly dog importation.

What is so important here are the factors involved:

  • Risks have been outlined (exotic illnesses and parasites that can affect dogs, humans, and other animals– e.g. Brucella canis and Leishmaniasis)
  • Realistic solutions have been targeted (you can’t stop all dogs from moving between different countries and regions, so what is the “low hanging fruit” that can be plucked and reduce the risks?)
  • These goals are cooperative in nature (veterinarians, border security, rescues, and breeders who ship animals are all being called on to do their part)

 

And also a big “YES!” to Bragg Creek veterinarian Judith Samson-French, who speaks to the importance of promoting local rescue, while solving foreign problems at the source:

“We are actually enabling a problem elsewhere because people need to learn to spay and neuter their dogs and how to help the overpopulation of dogs,” the veterinarian said.

“If we always take care of the problem from the outside, it never brings a solution from the inside… [We should] lend resources, in terms of knowledge and financial help, to do that.”

Of course, solving issues like this is much harder than outlining a good plan, but recognizing a serious issue and taking a firm stand is an excellent start!

 

naia25Years

Jul 7, 2016 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Responsible Rescue, Responsible Breeders: We All Want the Same Thing!

Many rescues and humane societies are struggling with the same set of issues that dog breeders were 20-30 years ago, as well as the same quandary: what is the best way to confront bad players and practices in an open and honest manner, and to solve the problems they have created while keeping those examples from defining the group as a whole?

On one hand, this task is easier than the one facing breeders, as there are no movements, organizations, or ideologies hell-bent on destroying rescues or shelters. But on the other hand, the task is more difficult due to the age we are living in. Headlines of “Shocking!” “Inhumane!” and/or “Scandalous!” behavior tied to organizations that are supposed to be helping animals are the very definition of clickbait: easy to sensationalize, subject matter that people have a strong emotional investment in, and an example of supposed moral authority figures behaving dishonestly or hypocritically. And on top of that, there is a large — or at least highly vocal — contingent within the rescue and sheltering community that views any form of criticism as an attack that needs to be deflected or quashed, rather than discussed.

So is it complicated and difficult task? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that rescues and humane societies are remaining silent about the way some dogs are being moved and placed today — irresponsibly, without oversight, and inhumanely — and we applaud the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA for speaking out in recent months, and thank them for using NAIA as a resource:

Excellent, and much appreciated commentary. And this really brings home the larger truth: that we are all after a culture where animals are treated humanely and responsibility, where you can’t simply change your name or label in order to market yourself and/or avoid oversight.

naia25Years

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