Last month I raised concerns about importing dogs from Russia and the growing risk of dog flipping. Concerns about importing diseases as well as caring for additional homeless animals when shelters report the need to euthanize animals for lack of space almost daily, are real. But dog flipping, or resale, is on the rise because desirable dogs - puppies, small breeds, and dogs with a tragic story - are in demand. Rescues are able to charge upwards of $250.00 just to apply to adopt and more when a match is made. One rescue in Las Vegas proposes to auction off chances to adopt puppies rescued from a pet store fire. (This has been delayed by court action by protestors).
For shelter and rescue professionals, these are challenging times. Many of my colleagues are opposed to bringing dogs from other areas in to shelters that are funded with local tax dollars. This seems reasonable since the goal in assisting homeless animals with government money is to solve a problem and then reallocate money to other problems as soon as possible. But many of the organizations involved in the most recent import of ten dogs from Sochi, Russia are privately funded. For example, Washington Animal Rescue League is a private shelter with a state of the art facility. Bob Ramin, CEO of WARL, brings up an excellent point on camera that these dogs with a headline grabbing story, serve as ambassadors for adoption anywhere.
Earlier this week WARL accepted some of over 100 animals seized in Arkansas at a breeding facility, from a national charity under fire for using too little of it's donations for hands on animal rescue. Other local shelters were involved in the Arkansas case, including those who may receive tax support but also operate on donations from supporters who expect these groups to reach outside their local neighborhoods to help animals in need. In some cases, local adopters can't find dogs they want in the shelters without these imports.
The bottom line is that if private sellers of dogs are not able to choose from where they will acquire dogs destined for new homes, the experts will not be free to both assist the needy and meet market demand. As NO Kill Nation has publicized, over 17 million families are looking for pets this year. With fewer than 2 million dogs seeing the inside of a shelter in a year, shelters can't meet the demand which drives buyers and adopters to alternate sources. If we don't want to see a resurgence of dog dealers, we need to keep up the education of the dog seeking public to ensure that people understand how to choose a family dog and how to find one without creating a demand for quick production. That's actually how we got into this mess 50 years ago. So the old saw, those who ignore history are destined to repeat it is worth heeding when lives are in the balance.