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Apr-07-2008 09:23printcomments

Group Urges Strengthening of Pet Import Regulation to Alleviate Dog Smuggling

In the face of ongoing "overpopulation" campaigns, smugglers run black market operations to meet puppy shortages.

These dogs were reportedly recovered from smugglers
Salem-News.com Business Report
These dogs were reportedly recovered from smugglers. Photo courtesy: petloverstips.com/

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Congress is presently considering a Farm Bill that would put more stringent health and screening requirements in place for importing dogs and puppies into the US for resale.

This is a critically important step in ensuring public health, the health of our pets and the vitality of the pet industry in America.

American consumers are increasingly concerned about the quality, safety and source of their products, especially imported foods and household goods. "Our standards for pets should be no different," says NAIA National Director Patti Strand, "but an unanticipated problem is complicating matters for American families who want to acquire a dog: campaigns to end pet overpopulation have been so successful that US breeders can no longer meet the demand of American consumers and thousands upon thousands of foreign dogs are being imported into the US each year."

Up to 300,000 dogs are brought into the US annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There is a dynamic at work that American pet consumers need to know about. "The majority of Americans understand today what it means to be responsible dog owners," says Strand.

"They consider their dogs to be part of the family and take the necessary precautions to prevent unwanted puppies by having them spayed or neutered, or by keeping intact (breeding) dogs under careful supervision.

Meanwhile, shelter euthanasia rates have plummeted to a fraction of their former highs in most parts of the country as fewer dogs enter shelters and shelter personnel have become skilled at marketing their adoptable dogs to the public.

Yet broad-brush anti-dog breeding campaigns to end dog overpopulation continue unabated, reducing the number of good breeders and well-bred dogs right along with the bad, so there are fewer American-bred puppies for sale -- and even fewer adoptable dogs available at shelters.

Consequently, when consumers want more dogs than American sources can supply, legal and illegal importation of foreign dogs rises dramatically.

These imported dogs displace higher quality American dogs. Because imported dogs are poorly screened or smuggled in without screening, they also bring zoonotic (animal-to-human) diseases such as rabies, and potentially expose the U.S. pet, livestock and wildlife populations to diseases and parasites that are not present here.

In the face of ongoing "overpopulation" campaigns, smugglers run black market operations to meet puppy shortages. European commercial breeding for export to the U.S. is exploding and some enterprising American shelters and national humane organizations have begun importing foreign street dogs to meet demand.

"An all too familiar American scenario of outsourcing has developed," Strand notes, "where conscientious US dog breeders who have raised quality, health, and welfare standards to levels unmatched in the rest of the world now find their puppies displaced by an influx of dogs produced in foreign countries that do not adhere to our high standards. Good intentions promoted by fundraising groups and international humane relocation operations have managed to outsource American dog breeding and put our pets -- and us -- in peril."

The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians recommends in their Animal Rabies Compendium that: "The movement of dogs for purpose of adoption or sale from areas with dog-to-dog rabies transmission should be prohibited."

The CDC is now considering tougher import regulations and the US Farm Bill includes language to prevent the import of dogs less than 6 months of age for resale or adoption. The National Animal Interest Alliance strongly supports these and other necessary reforms, and urges others to do so as well. "There is absolutely no reason we should be importing a single foreign dog for resale or adoption while dogs in US shelters are being euthanized," says Strand, "and when you take the added public health risks into account, it simply does not make sense."

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