As you might imagine, when we first started our group, in the early 1990’s the largest number of public complaints about dog acquisitions came from people who’d purchased a dog from a fly-by-night breeder or from a pet store. In my city, we received one horrible complaint after another. We followed up on the allegations we heard and worked through our kennel and cat clubs, and through public agencies and private groups to provide better public information about pet acquisition and worked to make policy changes in the way these activities are regulated.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of laws regulating breeding dogs have been passed since the early 1990’s. Today, the largest number of complaints we receive are about rescue and shelter dogs. We hear of dogs being placed with horrible temperaments and serious bite histories; of owners being attacked (one killed) by dogs whose owners left them at shelters to be euthanized because of past history, but were placed anyway. We hear of dogs with ongoing illnesses so severe, they drained the families’ resources before finally having to be euthanized; we hear of rescuers who operate unethically and inhumanely. We know of rescue shipments of dogs from one part of the country to another where dozens, (in a couple cases more than a hundred) dogs and puppies died in transit, and we hear of people bringing in dogs from countries where rabies and even worse diseases are still rampant.
We believe that the majority of people doing rescue today are well motivated, decent people who take their job seriously and operate ethically and responsibly. But we are also aware of a growing number of rescuers who operate in ways that put public health and safety at risk, who operate irresponsibly, who harm the well-being of the animals in their care and conduct themselves in their transactions with the public in unethical ways. We believe that leadership within the rescue community needs to step forward and begin defining best practice and setting up a framework for self-regulation. Meantime, we believe that NAIA has some important contributions to make to the conversation about rescue.”
I have to say that she makes a good point about needing framework, but in the end I am still conflicted as to where the line is drawn between compassion and extremism as well as welfare and rights…and who gets to say what is right and what is wrong.
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