Literally minutes after finishing our article on the global stray dog population crisis and the unintended consequences of importing foreign strays into the United States, we came across this article, detailing concerns among Maine's health officials and veterinarians in regards to recent humane relocation trends:
The combination of an out-of-control dog population in much of the South, and successful spay and neuter programs in the Northeast, has created a supply and demand for adoptable dogs. But health officials and vets, including the Maine State veterinarian, are concerned that these migrant dogs could be bringing infectious diseases with them.
Though we've been working to inform people about humane relocation for years, this is the first we've read of the issue in Maine; it's nice to see more and more people becoming aware of it. And if it would have ended there, it would have been a pretty good day.
But wait... there was more! Much more.
A few hours after reading the article from Maine, we received a copy of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Associations testimony in support of H.B. 5368, which would extend certain pet shop licensee requirements to people and organizations involved in the importation of animals for adoption (similar to one of our own pieces of model legislation). Big thank you to Dr. Arnold Goldman, DVM, MS, for sending us the transcript!
From the looks of H.B. 5368, not only is there a growing understanding of humane relocation and its implications, but knowledge that the system is being gamed by people wanting to cash in on the warm and fuzzy feelings that come along with pet adoption. Referring to pet rescue as an "industry" and pointing out the financial stakes held by these groups is a controversial, bold statement to make, but it's the truth, and something that can't go unsaid. And broaching this painful-but-true topic in polite society:
Indeed, some animals are bred specifically for transport and characterization of these animals as needing rescue is misleading.
Wow. Speaking of bold, I wanted to find a word that could accurately describe the kind of shameless cynicism that goes into such marketing, but was worried it'd break the thesaurus. The idea that there are commercial breeding operations creating "shelter dogs" as a product to be sold to well-meaning prospective pet owners is so repugnant the first reaction isn't horror -- it's often disbelief, even anger toward the messenger. In fact, this is a subject we are very careful about bringing up, because it is so hard for a decent person to wrap their head around. "Nobody could do something that despicable! How could you say such a horrible thing?"
If you don't have time to read the entire testimony, at least check out the summary. We're going to be hearing a lot about animal importation laws over the next few years; might as well become acquainted sooner rather than later:
Thus continued unregulated animal importation exposes Connecticut animals to disease, is unfair to citizens surprised by undisclosed medical issues and the costs to treat these, is inhumane To Connecticut source animals by decreasing their chance of adoption and shifts the cost of animal control activities from other states to our state. HB 5368 will allow animal health officials to control animal importation, prevent disease transmission, help ensure humane transport standards, protect Connecticut animal owners and animals, reduce Connecticut animal control costs and minimize the surrender of newly imported animals. Thank you.
No, thank you, Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association!