URBANA — The lowdown on People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is that they kill about 200,000 dogs annually when they are overcrowded. So much for ethics! Many shelters are no-kill but PETA has no compunction about euthanizing animals when their facilities are full. I am certain our readers have seen the pleas of The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) spokeswoman on TV dolefully asking to send them $19.00 a month to save a dog.
In the meantime SPCA and other 501(c),3 humane organizations are importing dogs to the U.S. from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Korea and countries as far away as Turkey. There is a shortage of adoptable dogs in some areas of the U.S. Adopt-a-mutt has been an extraordinarily successful program. Humane societies and entrepreneurs have adopted ingenious means of meeting the demand for the pet-owning public. Entrepreneurs import dogs from several outside countries for destination in the U.S. Dogs can be traced around the country through several shelter enterprises until no one knows exactly where they really originated. When these dogs arrive it is often uncertain where they will end up. Shelters often don’t know the origin other than the last shelter they were shipped. These dogs may be transported through two or three humane associations before arriving at a shelter that is short of adoptable dogs. By the time these dogs arrive at their end point, it is often uncertain where they originated other than the previous debarkation point.
Let me differentiate between your local animal shelter and the large non-profits that are doing national fund raising. Your local shelter will be under local control to provide services to locate lost pets, stray dog and cat adoptions. These entities may or may not be no-kill operations. As is often the case not every shelter’s has only adoptable dogs and cats. Some animals because of inappropriate personalities and attitudes of aggression are adoptable. If the shelter is a no-kill shelter, it doesn’t take long until these shelters have an excess of non-adoptable pets. While the philosophy of being no-kill is admirable, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that eventually these shelters will be unable to continue to accept newly found stray animals to re-unite them with their owner or if unsuccessful find the pet a new home.
Unfortunately regulatory authorities are also enmeshed in a similar web of conflicting options for homeless dogs and cats.
• The Center for Disease Control (CDC) regulates dog importation. If an animal welfare problem originating in another country is brought to their attention, the CDC does respond. There have been some instances of dogs imported that developed rabies after arrival. My sources report that there are not uniform rules of inspection or health requirements entering the U.S. The CDC isn’t much into inspection and supervision unless an importation problem is brought to their attention.
• The Animal Care Unit of the USDA under the U.S. Animal Welfare ACT has overlapping authority with the CDC and the State of Ohio. Not all states have canine regulations as Ohio does.
• The ACU regulates animals used for entertainment zoos and circuses but doesn’t include shelters.
• Ohio provides direct regulation at the kennel level. The ACU has regulatory authority over commercial operations that aren’t in retail sales to pet purchasers. They regulate brokers. The regulate kennels producing more than five or more litters annually. The ACU doesn’t require a VCPR nor Brucellosis testing. The ACU regulates operations that handle dangerous animals and very high dollar exotic animals
• Other diseases virtually are unmonitored. Reports of canine influenza, brucellosis, parvo virus and worms have also been noted. Try shipping a cow with any of those conditions into or out of the U.S., there will be consequences! Not so with dogs.
• In addition to rabies other diseases include:
– Canine influenza
– Parvo virus etc.
• These dogs are placed for adoption in homes with fees up to $300 per dog.
• All of these are tax exempt sales with few records for the IRS and local authorities which often don’t know the extent of these nefarious activities.
The old rule was “don’t purchase a dog from a pet store because it came from a puppy mill” may not be valid anymore. Here in Ohio breeding operations whelping nine or more litters annually must be licensed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Regulations require that the kennel have a Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR) with a veterinarian that visits the kennel regularly just as they do with regular farm operations.
These canine operations have strict hygiene and biosecurity measures in place to ensure canine health. Visitors can’t just stop in to view the puppies without an appointment. Even then the puppy viewing is through a glass or TV monitor. Dogs are well cared for and are health tested annually. Most consumers don’t know that Brucellosis is a significant problem in dogs. Brucellosis aka “undulant fever” in humans is a health threat. These commercial dog breeders via testing has nearly eliminated this disease in Ohio and its threat. This statement isn’t supported in small unlicensed breeding operations.
Unregulated breeders in Ohio are small operations producing less than nine litters and 60 pups annually. Some are as conscientious as commercial dog breeders but some aren’t tuned into anything more than producing and selling pups. Brucellosis monitoring is mostly by happenstance if infertility becomes an issue in the stud dogs or bitches being bred.
Such a mish-mash of overlapping agencies, rules and undefined purview! Makes me think that when it comes to dog purchases we are at a merchants’ market in China where during the spring solstices last year one province consumed 20,000 dogs in two weeks. Just be glad we aren’t also celebrating the spring solstice as that would make the adoptable dog shortage even greater.