As many dog lovers focus on how to save the stray dogs in and around the Olympic Village in Sochi, Russia, lovers of pure-bred dogs are becoming increasingly concerned about their ability to purchase and breed the dogs they cherish. In response to efforts to advance the adoption of dogs, an increasing number of towns and states are considering or have already adopted laws that ban the sale of pure-bred dogs from pet stores. At the same time, adoptions of dogs from pet stores are permitted as long as the dogs are obtained from adoption or rescue sources, even if these dogs are pure-bred. No records are required to identify the source, movements or care the rescue dogs receive, even though fees can be collected, allegedly to offset those costs.
The adoption of abandoned dogs, otherwise destined for euthanasia, should be available for those people interested in adopting. But full disclosure about the source of these dogs should be provided, especially if adoptees believe they are adopting locally abandoned dogs. In many states there are few adoptable dogs in local shelters, and dogs for adoption have to be imported from out of state. As evident by the outpouring of concern about the stray dogs in Sochi, there are many more stray dogs available for adoption globally.
Compounding this issue are those involved in the dog rescue solely for profit. Anecdotal evidence indicates that dogs are intentionally bred and sold to shelters or rescue operations and then to people who are willing to pay for the transport and adoption of dogs because they believe they were abandoned. With no regulations governing these deceptive sales, they are likely to continue. What is needed is real evidence about the breeding and movement of dogs through rescue channels, as well as more reliable and specific statistics about the dogs entering and leaving animal shelters.
A few states have begun actively tracking the movement of dogs into and out of their states, and those received for sale, adoption or rescue. Such tracking has to be applied uniformly for all dog movement, so that the problem of dog abandonment can be properly measured, understood, and addressed. Simply reporting the number of dogs entering shelters, or those adopted or euthanized, is not sufficient to uncover and comprehensively understand the problem. Without understanding the source of the dogs being adopted, there will be a never-ending supply of dogs from unscrupulous breeders looking to profit from the public’s good will.
For those people who prefer to adopt a dog instead of buying one, that option should be available. At the same time, people should be able to continue to buy and enjoy pure-bred dogs.