Successful Spay/Neuter Policies Create High Demand for Rescue Dogs in Washington
Over the last couple of decades, the number of rescues sending dogs from Southern states to the Pacific Northwest has increased significantly.
The reason for this phenomenon is simple. Municipal shelters and private rescues in the NW developed stricter spay/neuter policies and devoted resources to educate people about the importance of spaying/neutering their pets. As a result, shelters and rescues have fewer dogs available for adoption.
For example, in the Seattle area:
- King County (KCC 11.04.400) stipulates that, with a few exceptions, “No person shall own or harbor any cat or dog over the age of six months that has not been spayed or neutered.”
- The Seattle Animal Shelter spays/neuters dogs before they are put up for adoption. It also offers low cost spay/neuter surgeries to the public.
- Private rescues like The NOAH Center, Homeward Pet Adoption Center, Seattle Humane Society, and the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County also offer low cost spay/neuter surgeries to the public.
Increased focus on spaying/neutering have been so successful in reducing the stray dog population that shelters in the PNW often don’t have enough dogs to meet the public demand for rescue dogs.
To meet this demand, a number of rescues began transporting dogs from overcrowded shelters (primarily in southern states) to PNW shelters. They also import dogs from countries like Mexico that have few spay/neuter laws and huge populations of stay dogs roaming the streets.
That’s why the Washington State Department of Agriculture labeled Washington a “magnet state” for rescue dogs from other states and countries.
I don’t have a problem with rescues bringing dogs from other areas to Washington for adoption as long as they follow state and federal rules designed to protect the dogs’ health and prevent the spread of disease.
Rescue Groups Cannot Bring Puppies Under 6 Months Old in to US
Recently, someone alerted me that Casa Dog is violating federal law by importing dogs under 6 months of age from Mexico to the US.
The Animal Welfare Act is a federal law that “establishes requirements concerning the transportation, sale, and handling of certain animals and includes restrictions on the importation of live dogs for purposes of resale, prohibitions on animal fighting ventures, and provisions intended to prevent the theft of personal pets.”
Here are the elements of the Animal Welfare Act that rescues must follow when they bring dogs to sell into the US from other countries:
Majority of Puppies from Mexico Listed by Casa Dog are Underage
Currently, Casa Dog’s Petfinder page lists 60 puppies available for adoption: 39 of them are from Mexico and under 6 months old. It lists several underage puppies on its Facebook page as well.
I sent a couple of emails to Casa Dog asking how the rescue can bring puppies that young into the US and whether or not it has some special arrangement with the USDA to import them. The rescue never responded.
Without a response from Casa Dog I can only speculate how the rescue brought so many puppies across the border in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
One possibility is that the federal officials tasked with overseeing the importation of animals aren’t checking the ages of the puppies at the border because they are inept, indifferent, or overworked.
Another possibility is that Casa Dog has people bringing the puppies across the border who mislead border agents by claiming the puppies are their personal pets.
Some rescues do this because the requirements for bringing personal dogs into the US are much less stringent than those for dogs brought into the US by rescue for rescue.
All you have to do to bring a personal dog into the US from Mexico is a health certificate signed by a certified Mexican vet stating the dog is healthy. The dog doesn’t even need to have a rabies vaccination if the “owner” provides an oral or written declaration that it “has lived in Mexico for the last 6 months, or since birth.”
Puppy Import Rules Less Stringent for Dog Owners Than Dog Rescues
Given the numerous requirements that rescues must meet before they can bring dogs into the US from Mexico for resale, it’s easy to understand why some unscrupulous rescues have people claim puppies are their own personal pets at the border.
It can also be extremely profitable.
Rescue puppies are always in high demand by potential adopters. People adopt them much more quickly than adults, so they generate cash faster than older dogs. And because they get adopted quickly, rescues don’t have to spend as much on their food and medical care.
As I said, I can only speculate why/how Casa Dog is bringing underage puppies across the Mexican border to sell in Washington since no one responded to my emails. But based on the ages of multiple puppies from Mexico it appears the rescue is violating the Animal Welfare Act.
Furthermore, by avoiding the more stringent rules for vaccinating dogs brought into the US from Mexico for resell, Casa Dog could be importing puppies that could either spread diseases or be more susceptible to them.
If you want to adopt a puppy from Mexico or other countries, please remember that unless it’s at least 6 months old, the rescue selling it may have brought it into the US illegally.
And if you know of a rescue that is selling underage puppies from Mexico, fill out and send this form to the US Department of Agriculture.