Browsing "Shelter & Rescue"
Apr 28, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Rescue Dogs with Brucellosis Imported into Canada from Southern US and Mexico

We hate to keep pounding the same drum, but this is such a serious and growing issue, we feel it would be irresponsible not to report it:

Canine Brucella Imported to Alberta, Canada from Southern US and Mexico Rescue Dogs

Brucellosis is a particularly nasty disease, caused by the Brucella canis bacterial organism that leads to illness and infertility in dogs. It is zoonotic, which means it can be passed along to humans, though this is rare.

Here is NAIA Board Member Marty Greer, DVM, JD, with a summary of Canine brucellosis, and what it means for dogs and dog owners:

Canine brucellosis is a serious threat to the breeding program of any dog breeder. Canine brucellosis is infrequently diagnosed in the US and Canada. The threats are two-fold. The first threat is to human health – any disease that can be spread to humans, as canine brucellosis can be, is a concern. Although it rarely is transmitted to humans, the threat is real, particularly for those with immunocompromised health. The second threat is the damage done to a breeding program. Dogs infected with Brucella canis are at the least neutered or spayed and placed on long term antibiotics. In some cases, the recommendations are to euthanize the infected animals because of the difficulty and expense associated with successful treatment. Dogs in an infected home or facility are repeatedly tested and isolated from other dogs for months at a time. Infected dogs can no longer be in a breeding program. For those breeders who have spent a lifetime developing their genetic lines of dogs, this can be devastating, emotionally and financially.

Canine brucellosis can be tested for in reference laboratories and in house in many veterinary clinics. The test used for in house testing is relatively old technology, but it is very sensitive, meaning the test is unlikely to miss a dog that is infected with Brucella canis. Consider testing all dogs in a breeding program or leaving a breeding program for B. canis prior to moving the dogs or allowing them into your home or facility to prevent this crisis.

Unlike rabies, which is the disease most often focused on when discussing the irresponsible transfer of rescue dogs, brucellosis isn’t a death sentence. But it is a very serious illness — aside from the ethical issues of irresponsibly spreading disease, it is of incredible concern to people who are trying to responsibly breed dogs, as well as those who want to bring a deliberately bred dog with predictable traits into their family!

Apr 16, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Arson Threats for Putting Down a Dangerous Dog

In Wisconsin, police have stepped up patrols near the Elmbrook Humane Society, after it began receiving threats for euthanizing a dog.

The dog was a large, handsome fellow named Jim. Expressive eyes, gentle and well-behaved behind the camera, but he began exhibiting signs of aggression after being adopted out. He had several biting incidents, was declared a “vicious dog,” returned to the shelter and adopted out again, and eventually hurt somebody to the point stitches were required.

Now, should Jim have been adopted out in the first place? Or the second? Possibly not the first time, probably not the second, but that is a whole ‘nother blog, and we don’t have enough details for anything other than a general statement on that. But what we can say for sure is that in the end, the shelter was forced to make a hard, but responsible choice with Jim… for which they received threats.


Jim (Photo: Elmbrook Humane Society on Facebook)

What is wrong with this picture? Nobody (with the possible exception of PeTAwants to euthanize animals. The Elmbrook Humane Society prides itself on its live release rate, and really went to the mat for Jim. When you have done your best for a dog that has bitten on multiple occasions — finally to the point where medical attention is required — you have to put the interest of future adopters, of the public first. As heartbreaking as it can be for an otherwise healthy dog to be put down, there are many, many other animals who can be safely and responsibly adopted out, who would just love a new forever home.

Yet instead of accepting that sometimes painful decisions need to be made, instead of inquiring about those other non-bitey animals, there are now people threatening to burn the shelter down. Whether or not the threats are credible, whether or not the shelter is actually in any danger, this is just nuts, folks.

Apr 6, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Are You Helping or Enabling? Know Who You are Supporting!

Several months ago, a Florida woman, realizing her wildlife rescue was “not sustainable,” began taking in domestic animals in an effort to appeal to donors… sadly, the end results were not pretty:

Faulseit and another woman were charged with animal cruelty. Officials found more than 60 cats, dogs, raccoons and an opossum living in their own filth, without food and water, at Faulseit’s St. Petersburg home.

She adopted many from the Hillsborough County shelter and was selling others at a local pet store, possibly for profit, but police say it’s hard to prove.

As we pointed out on Friday, social media can be a great tool for shelters and rescues to find homes and help animals. But there is always a flip side to consider: it is also a tool that enables people who are overwhelmed (and often unable to stop themselves) or unethical to grow and continue their operations.

It is awesome that you can take two minutes and make a few clicks from California to help an organization in Florida — we love that! But getting to know who you are working with through their history, references, or (best of all) visiting them yourself is a must if you want assurance your donations are making a positive difference for animals.

Apr 3, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

New Life for a Little Lost Dog: Someone’s Doing It the Right Way

We wanted to head into the weekend on a positive note, and as if in response, immediately came across this story about a little lost dog with a tumor on her face who was picked up by Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control in Connecticut: Tumor Removed from Dog Is Benign: Animal Control

Hey, “it’s benign” is some of the best news you can get (well, next to having no tumor at all, of course), but what we want to draw attention to is the process, the responsible, humane, and cooperative way this situation was handled:

  • A roaming dog (now named “Mookie”) is picked up by Animal Control, and nobody comes forward to claim her
  • Mookie has a tumor on her face; removing it cannot be paid for with funds given to the town or Animal Control, so a call for donations is made, with those funds going directly to a local animal hospital (Goodfriends Animal Clinic) that will perform the procedure
  • Animal lovers step up to the plate and cover Mookie’s medical expenses
  • Along with getting the tumor removed, she is spayed, has her teeth cleaned, gets her rabies shot, etc. — this girl really gets the “full treatment!”
  • Biopsy of the tumor comes back “benign,” with little chance of it growing back
  • Now, through cooperation between Animal Control, Goodfriends, and generous animal lovers, a little lost dog now has a shot at a great life!

Before and After

The people who love animals, the ones who make a difference quietly doing the right thing day after day really don’t get enough credit — but we love outcomes like this, and are more than happy to point out their good work!

Have a great weekend!

Jan 29, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    11 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    2 Comments

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.


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!





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.