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.