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.
  • Nancy Daniels

    First, thank you for this informative article. I’m a resident of Maine, active lover of dogs, & President of the Maine Federation of Dog Clubs-DBA NAIA Trust. I have a long-time concern regarding the importation of dogs to Maine from out of state & out of country. I believe it to be a hugh public health concern , a danger to our wildlife, & a  health concern to our domesticated animals as well.  as I also feel that this is becoming a business for the importing shelters.I strongly feel that everyone has the right to get a dog from whomever they choose, but they need to get the needed information to make an educated decision.As usual, NAIA continues to inform, promote debate, & provide needed answers.

    • Rodney Sparkowich

      4 people got theinformation and answers they needed and adopted puppies from this group of Guam puppies today. Get this, two of these new adoptive families are retired military! Maybe NAIA should start to slam the military??

      • Of course the puppies found homes. Who can resist a puppy?

        And why on Earth would we slam people who adopt animals? Opposition to irresponsible dog importation does not equal some sort of blanket opposition to rescue and adoption.

        We encourage lively discussion, and you are welcome to disagree with our position, but please use a logical argument next time — or at least try to make sense. Thank you.

        • Rodney Sparkowich

           @ Nancy, I likewise am a Maine resident and a lifelong dog enthusiast. I have trained and titled dogs in competitions from AKC Obedience to USPCA Police Narcotics. You say “I believe it to be a hugh public health concern , a danger to our wildlife, & a health concern to our domesticated animals as well.” I ask you to please provide some specificity to substantiate your beliefs. I am prepared to be pursuaded.  Thank You.