By:  Date: 03/17/2008

Congress is presently considering a Farm Bill that would put more stringent requirements in place for dogs and puppies imported into the US for resale (not for the importer's private use). This is a critically important step toward ensuring public health, healthy pets and the vitality of the pet industry in America. The Centers for Disease Control is also considering a proposal to tighten regulations for pet imports.

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 less. But there is a profound irony in our country when claims of pet overpopulation are used to target breeders and force sterilization of American pets, while hundreds of thousands of foreign dogs are being imported every year!

American-bred dogs are the best in the world, and the U.S. pet industry is the world’s most highly regulated. But 30 years of successful programs aimed at reducing dog overpopulation plus an extra decade of misguided overkill on the issue has created a perfect storm for American dogs and their owners.

Too much success is the biggest problem facing dog overpopulation campaigns today. The majority of Americans understand today what it means to be responsible dog owners. They consider their dogs to be part of the family and keep intact dogs home to prevent unwanted puppies, or have them spayed or neutered.

Meanwhile, shelters have become successful at marketing their dogs to the public, so shelter intake and euthanasia rates have plummeted to a fraction of their former highs. Yet misguided campaigns to end dog overpopulation by targeting breeders with anti-breeding legislation continue unabated, reducing the number of good breeders right along with the bad, so there are fewer American-bred puppies for sale -- and fewer American dogs available at some American shelters.

The result?

When consumers want more dogs than American breeders and shelters can supply in a given region of the country, legal and illegal importation of foreign dogs has risen. And fast – up to 300,000 annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These imports displace American dogs with poorer quality dogs. And because imported dogs are poorly screened or smuggled in with no 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 markets to meet puppy shortages. European commercial breeding for export to the U.S. is exploding. And some enterprising American shelters and national animal groups have begun importing foreign street dogs to meet demand.

It’s a familiar American story: US 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. A perfect storm of good intentions promoted by fundraising groups and international humane relocation operations has 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.”

NAIA members can expose the irony and hypocrisy underlying this dangerous trend. It’s time to ring the wake-up bell and inform our friends, neighbors and lawmakers about what is happening and what can be done to correct it.

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, i.e., for transfer rather than for personal use. The National Animal Interest Alliance strongly supports these needed reforms and calls on dog lovers from coast to coast to support these legislative actions to protect our pets. Go to the NAIA Trust action alert to learn more and take meaningful action today!

NAIA is the Reform Wing of the Animal Welfare Movement!

Member Advisory
March 17, 2008
For more information contact:
naia@naiaonline.org or 503-761-1139



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