Sadly, importation by rescue and shelter groups -- though often well-intentioned -- displaces local homeless dogs without attacking the root of the problem. When an adorable puppy or small-breed dog from a distant land is adopted instead of a local, three-year-old lab or pit mix, one dog's life is simply traded for another.
Such an act does nothing to change the practices, policies, or culture of the imported dog's breeder, home state, or country. Instead, it enables irresponsible behavior and provides some of the worst kennels imaginable with an "overstock outlet" for the puppies they produce. Some importing shelters even refuse admittance to local dogs in favor of more "adoptable" ones from outside the area.
The solution? States must require that shelters and rescue groups transparently report data on the animals they take in -- and the animals they adopt out.
Virginia shelters have reported their shelter data in very detailed format for several years. West Virginia might benefit from reviewing its eastern neighbor's highly successful program.
Not long ago, the stated goal of most humane societies was to put themselves out of business by solving the dog overpopulation crisis. But today's practices create a perpetual pet supply chain for many shelters that allow them to function as unregulated pet stores.
In today's global marketplace, navigating pet-acquisition process is more confusing and than ever. Buyers and adopters need to beware.
Before obtaining a family dog, prospective owners must do their homework. They must carefully consider the source of their next pet.
Strand is director of the National Animal Interest Alliance, naiaonline.org.