Washington Dog Rescues Skirt the Rules
Documents obtained from the Washington Department of Agriculture (WSDA) by Seattle DogSpot indicate that some Washington dog rescues illegally brought thousands of dogs into the state last year.
Section 16.54.170 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) states that every dog brought into Washington must have “a certificate of veterinary inspection” which “must identify each animal and certify that each animal at the time of entry is current on rabies vaccination according to the manufacturer’s label, and does not originate from an area under quarantine for rabies.”
In addition, dogs six months of age and older “must be tested negative for heartworm or are currently on a heartworm preventative.”
Family pets and puppies under 90 days old are exempt.
The law also says that veterinarians that examine dogs coming to Washington must send a copy of the health certificate to WSDA within 7 days of the examination.
WSDA Communications Director Hector Castro told me that “a valid health certificate ensures that a dog being transported into Washington state has been examined by a veterinarian as required, received tests for the diseases of concern, and been properly vaccinated. When any person or organization brings a dog into our state without this paperwork, it is cause for concern and poses a risk to both pets and people across the state.”
Numbers Don’t Add Up
I submitted a public records request to WSDA for copies of every certificate of veterinary inspection it received for dogs brought into Washington last year. These documents showed that dog rescues officially brought more than 730 dogs in Washington in 2016.
Here are the rescues that brought in those dogs, their location, and the number of dogs they imported:
|Human Society for SW Washington
|Rompin Paws Rescue
|Georgia Peaches Puppy Rescue
|11th Hour Animal Rescue
|Seattle Humane Society
|Forever Homes Rescue
|South Pacific Humane
|Another Chance Rescue
|Seattle Animal Shelter
|NW Boxer Rescue
|Western Aussie Rescue
|Spokane Humane Society
|Welfare Animal Guild
|Tender Care Animal Rescue
|Second Chance Companions
|Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue
|Main St. Mutt Rescue
|Lucky Paws Rescue
|Dogs of the Gorge
As I suspected, some dog rescues that import thousands of dogs a year to Washington are not listed because the WSDA had no health certificates for the dogs they brought here in 2016.
Here are some examples:
FUREVER HOMES – OLYMPIA
On its Facebook page, Furever Homes says it “specializes in finding you the perfect dog for your family from California and Mexico.”
Furever Homes founder Sharon Gold said in this 2015 article in the Olympian that she adopts out 20-40 dogs per month, which is 240-480 dogs per year.
But Furever Homes didn’t send any certificates of veterinary inspection to the WSDA for any of this
Furever Homes has a long history of sketchy practices which include adopting out sick dogs with a number of health problems like distemper, parvovirus, and coccidia.
And a vet at a Banfield clinic said Gold informed them that “she has a parvo outbreak and (the puppy) has a URI (Upper Respiratory Infection).” She also said she had seen many dogs from Furever Homes “and they all had a severe URI infection.”
These examples indicate either these dogs aren’t examined by a veterinarian before Furever Homes brings them to Washington or the vets that do check them aren’t doing comprehensive exams.
RISING PHOENIX MASTIFF RESCUE
Rising Phoenix Mastiff Rescue founder Trisha Porter is notorious for selling sick, emaciated dogs to unsuspecting adopters.
Earlier this year I reported that dozens of people filed complaints and reviews about dogs they adopted from Rising Phoenix with a number of serious health problems like broken teeth, infected eyes, infected paws, infected wounds, ear infections, ear mites, mange, pneumonia, diarrhea, parvovirus, worms, open sores, and bloody stool.
Porter often drives to other states to bring dogs for adoption in Washington. Not surprisingly, WSDA has no record of any health certificates for any dogs brought to Washington by Rising Phoenix Mastiff Rescue.
GINGER’S RESCUE – SEATTLE
The website for Ginger’s Rescue says the organization has found homes for 10,000 dogs since 2006. That’s approximately 1000 dogs a year. Ginger’s brings many of its dogs from out of state and overseas, but last year the WSDA had no health certificates for dogs the rescue brought to Washington.
I contacted Ginger’s to see if anyone knew why the WSDA didn’t have any health certificates for these dogs. The person who answered my message said, “Each dogs gets vaccinated and comes with a spay/neuter certificate, unless there is a reason they can not be altered before getting here. Then Ginger pays our local vet to do it.”
She noted that Ginger’s keeps all the health certificates for the dogs they bring here. She also told me the transport they use to bring dogs from California to Washington will not take dogs without health certificates.
I told the rescue that I wanted to check with their vet’s office in California to see if they knew they were required to send copies of health certificates for dogs coming to Washington to the WSDA. I spoke with a person familiar with process of sending dogs to Ginger’s and she had no idea her office was required to send copies of the health certificates for these dogs to the WSDA.
MAIN STREET MUTT RESCUE – BELLINGHAM
The WSDA had one health certificate from Main Street Mutt Rescue (MSMR) for dogs it brought into Washginton last year. Like Ginger’s Rescue, MSMR claimed it didn’t know the vets that examine their dogs before transport were supposed to send copies of the health certificates to the WSDA.
MSMR told me that vets examine all their dogs from outside Washington and they have all of them on file.
Hundreds of Health Certificates Missing
These are just 4 examples where dog rescues didn’t sent health certificates for out of state dogs to the WSDA.
And some of the rescues on the list brought many more dogs than the records indicate. For example, SpokAnimal in Spokane told one of my contacts that they bring about 100 dogs a week into Washington, which is approximately 5200 a year; but WSDA’s records only had health certificates from SpokAnimal for 135 dogs.
Where are the other 5000+ health certificates for the dogs brought into Washington last year?
I believe the WSDA is missing thousands of these health certificates for for two reasons:
- Shady dog rescues don’t want to pay for the vet exams
- Out-of-state veterinarians don’t know to send the WSDA copies of health certificates for the dogs coming into Washington they examine
This is not just an inconsequential bureaucratic error. While not every dog brought into Washington without a corresponding health certificate is sick, evidence shows that some rescues bring dogs here with serious, contagious, and life threatening diseases that should have been identified and treated before they were sent here.
Mr. Castro said that “enforcement of the rules is one response” to address this problem. He also noted that the WSDA “will also continue educating the public about this important requirement and use outlets like your website to share this information.”
Potential dog adopters should know that each dog brought into Washington by a rescue MUST have a health certificate that contains all the pertinent information that the WSDA requires.
If a rescue can’t provide one, then the dog is in the state illegally and could potentially have a contagious disease, so walk away and find a dog at another rescue.