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Good lord, you're suggesting that there is a problem with shelters shutting down because of a lack of homeless dogs? That's a reason to celebrate, not to lament supposedly "unreasonable regulations" that "shut down reputable breeders or chase them out of state." First, a reputable breeder by definition would NOT have puppies or dogs it bred ending up in shelters in the first place. Second, the purpose of shelters is not to keep a steady supply of puppies or dogs on hand for adoption. They're a safety net for homeless dogs and cats. If they get driven out of business by a lack of homeless dogs and cats, that is a terrific thing!

National Animal Interest Alliance

Hi Sue.

No disrespect intended, but I'm not sure what your problem is. Nobody is suggesting shelters shutting down due to a lack of homeless dogs is a bad thing. Not sure where you're getting that -- if it is from my writing, than I am guilty of not being clear enough.

But just so we're clear: it's a GOOD thing!

You are also correct that the purpose of shelters is not to keep a steady supply of puppies or dogs on hand for adoption. That is, in fact, one of our issues with the practice of humane relocation. I think it's safe to say we're on the same page here.

And finally, you are right that a reputable breeder is far, far less likely to have his or her dogs end up in a shelter.

That said, good breeders are oftentimes adversely affected or put in a position of "innocent until proven guilty" by legislation intended to quash bad breeders. While we support regulations that protect for the welfare for dogs, we do not support laws that unintentionally (or intentionally) harm good breeders as much or more as they do the bad. This is a larger issue than this comment space will allow for, but I do hope you continue reading. It is something we will definitely be touching on more in this blog and at our website.


No one is suggesting the "shutting down of shelters".... the point was made that some shelters in the NE have very limited intake of local animals. Fiscally speaking, these shelters could be closed if there was not a reason to maintain their funding. Humane Relocation has given many of these shelters the animals they need to justify the expense of running the shelter.

Yes this is positive- BUT let's look at a couple things...

1) The reason behind the limited local intake is because spay/neuter laws in the NE has been so successful and breeders have been so over regulated that it's incredibly hard to find a dog to adopt. Yes, that's wonderful for homeless dogs, but presents a HUGE problem for those seeking a pet (no matter the source of the pet)

2) The NE legislation, high spay/neuter and limited shelter dogs available has created a black market so to speak for rescues participating in Humane Relocation to 1) make money (yes it's happening) and 2) in order to meet the demand of adopters in the NE, responsible rescues are cutting serious corners in an attempt to get dogs moved quickly. A basic health exam or health certificate DOES NOT MAKE A HEALTHY PET! Dogs who are shipping from high disease areas MUST BE QUARANTINED for a minimum of 14days prior to shipping and SHOULD be checked for Heartworm, Parvo, treated for internal and external parasites and vaccinated for the basics, including kennel cough. Once the animals arrive safely at their new location, they MUST be quarantined a second time at intake to ensure they did not get sick in the transport. Problem is, rescues DO NOT want to do this as it's expensive and takes time and money.

Lastly, I will say that dogs who have been "counted" as intake at one facility should NOT be counted a second or third time at intake when they reach a new facility. That same dog or cat can be "counted" multiple times making it appear more dogs are being accepted into the shelter/rescue system than actually are being served. Federal Law MUST set regulations about transport rules, health issues, standards of reporting and standards of operation including transparency of record keeping of ALL Shelters and Rescues. They need to be held to the SAME standards as any other private facility, be it a breeder or animal owner.


Sue, you're missing some of the point. those shelters aren't shutting their doors or celebrating the lowest intake numbers they've ever had. they are instead becoming little more than unregulated pet stores, stocking merchandise they have to go hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to find. some even PAY for puppies just to have something to sell- err, 'adopt' out, as they say. they are unapologetic, stating that they need puppies like this, despite health risks to the animals, residents and pets already in a geographic area, to "meet demand". one article I read from a New England shelter director said she was buying puppies from overseas, just so that ppl who came into her shelter would have something to adopt 'instead of going to a breeder".
all the while, passing more and more restrictive legislation and pushing helathy, purpose bred dogs to the point of extinction.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to expose my family to some sickly foreign cast off- which will be the only pets available if things continue as they are.
how does this make any sense whatsoever????

Dr Arnold L. Goldman

The principals of 1. federalism and 2. interstate commerce, teach us that a product ("rescue" pets in this case) imported into a state must be regulated at the state, make that 50-state, level. It's no different than regulating firearms, alcoholic beverages, automobile emission standards, toxic substances and any other product capable of causing a tort, essentially a harm to any person or group of persons.

Sick animals, animals not-yet-owned in a state, on the way to state or because after arriving in a state they "harm" other animals already present can all cause economic damages to individuals and communities. These could be seen as "torts."

Personally, I question the idea that most interstate trafficking in dogs is due to underpopulation or even due to mis-allocation, and therefore necessary. Every municipal impound and private shelter in CT is always full and most animals have not been transported. Now if one wants to talk about adopt-ability or desirability, well these are subject to the vagaries of the consumer. But demand can be made to match supply.

The total amount of money that changes hands nationally between consumer and those associated with the rescue trade is unknown but is certainly vast. At $350 to $550 dollars a dog "donation", there is only modest savings as compared to purebred dogs. What is very different is the marketing: it is based on a rejection of class distinction among people in American society, that now extends to our dogs. "He's a rescue, doc", is a common entreaty from veterinary clients, expectant of high praise for doing their part for humaneness and humanity, in their minds equivalent to adopting a desperately poor, orphan child from abroad.

Only an upstream approach, one that limits the large scale movement out of states that are the net suppliers, can have any hope of forcing those states to deal with their problems internally: irresponsible citizens, weak AC laws, underfunded AC departments and a lack of education regarding how animals ought to be treated.

Every state must 'own' its problem. Shipping it out solves nothing, forever. The emotional response of the rescuers, "give us your tired, your un-homed, your huddled un-owned" is no solution at all.
It's just a crass money-making scheme, which incidentally provides enough skim to help fund the political goals of groups aligned with the animal supremacist movement. You know who they are.

National Animal Interest Alliance

@Dr. Arnold L. Goldman "Personally, I question the idea that most interstate trafficking in dogs is due to underpopulation or even due to mis-allocation, and therefore necessary."

And you absolutely SHOULD question this, as population and retention numbers vary wildly from region-to-region, city-to-city, and even neighborhood-to-neighborhood!

One of the more frustrating things for NAIA over the years has been the fact that people want to make this issue so much simpler than it is.

For example, when we try to deconstruct the myths of pet overpopulation, some people think we're calling pet overpopulation itself a myth. Uh... considering the fact that my local shelter used to euthanize dogs by the tens of thousands each year before proper confinement and spaying and neutering became commonplace, I certainly don't think it's a myth. I mean, let unaltered dogs roam freely throughout your neighborhood and you're gonna have unwanted puppies. It doesn't take rocket science to figure that one out, and fortunately, this biology-101 lesson has sunk through in many places.

The dog population issue has grown far more nuanced than it once was. There are regions where replacement levels for dogs have fallen drastically below the demand for new pets (though, as you say, "adoptability" and "desirability" comes into play), but there are also regions where the opposite is true.

That said, I do believe we have reached a point in most places where it is primarily an issue of retention -- especially in the American North.

And at least for dogs... cat overpopulation statistics are downright frightening.

Dr Arnold L. Goldman

Yes, and very significantly when you see CATS also come off those rescue transport trailers and vehicles at commuter lots or sold at store-front adoption events here, it puts the lie to the rescue traffickers claim "it's only about saving lives, never, never just about the profit,.... (er donations to good causes.)" I can say with self righteous certainty: There is no reason to transport for adoption any cat from one state to another in this country, except to make money. Every state has plenty of cats waiting at local organizations for homes. The rescue traffickers are just competitors for donations with these locals. Shame on them.

Mike Cahill

I gotta say, I read this the same way Sue did.

I think the most important point to be made is that there are no regulations governing the operation of breeders in Massachusetts. I don't mean few, or inadequate regulations, I mean none. The only requirement for a breeder in Massachusetts is to obtain a kennel license from the town clerk in the town where they live. This requirement applies to any individual that has more than 3 dogs, whether they are breeding or not. Bear in mind that dogs under six months of age do not count. So, if a breeder only has two bitches and a sire, they don't even need a kennel license from the town.

For the record, we're not "waking up". We issued rules for groups performing humane relocation in 2005. At that time, we were the only state in New England to have done so.

If you want to check facts before your next article, don't be afraid to give us a call.

Mike Cahill
Director - Division of Animal Health
MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources


@NAIA: Exactly what are the "unreasonable regulations and attitudes that have shut reputable breeders down or chased them out of state", with regards to Massachusetts?

National Animal Interest Alliance

@Mike: you are exactly right. In Massachusetts it is an issue of the displacement of locally bred dogs, rather than over-regulation. In fact, we were quite active in Massachusetts during the time those rules you mention were being set...

We reported on the issue:

We worked in with people in Massachusetts on it:

Given the specific title of the blog (yes, it's over-the-top and kind of lame, but it was the best I could think of at the moment) and the generalized subject matter that followed, it is understandable that you might feel we were criticizing your state where no criticism is due -- or at the very least, lumping it in with a state like Maine, where hobby breeders feel they are living under siege every time legislation season rolls around. (They dodged another bullet this year when LD 491 was pulled).

@Liz: see the reply to Mike. Massachusetts is not a draconian, anti-breeder wasteland, and I sincerely apologize if my wording led you to feel we were criticizing the state.

I will clarify with a footnote in yesterday's blog when I get a chance.


I am all for shutting down puppy mills and irresponsible rescues but let's help responsible rescues who are doing it right continue. Better, let's put our efforts and energies into closing down puppy mills and promote spay and neuter so we don't have to rescue. Why should a beloved pet who by no fault of his own lose his family and home to a tornado be euthanized and thrown in a landfill when there are really good rescues who will quarantine, vet, alter and then find the dog a new home.

My dog is a rescue dog and he is the best dog I have ever met. He came to me vetted, neutered, and healthy & well socialized as he had lived in a foster home. I have fostered 100's of dogs without any health problems. They all live with happy loving appreciative families. PLEASE don't blindly shut all rescue down it will only fuel the black market.

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