Recently, I identified concerns about the sale of pets through animal rescue organizations and shelters.  Without the ability to identify the origin and movement of many of these animals, consumers are at risk of unknowingly inviting diseases and pests into their home with their new pets.  Along these lines, the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians recently raised specific concerns about the potential spread of rabies from pets entering the country from rabies-endemic countries without the proper immunizations, and sent its revised recommendations to prevent such risks to the CDC.

Those risks were realized, in part, when on May 27, 2014, the CDC issued a Health Alert informing veterinarians and consumers that it “has received reports of an increasing number of dogs with questionable documentation of prior rabies vaccination. The dogs are being imported into the United States from rabies-endemic countries.”

The alert identified the imported dogs as those who are:

  • are sold on-line, by independent sellers, or in pet stores.
  • are adopted through both U.S. and international sources.
  • may be purebred, hybrid, or mixed breeds; distributors may claim to have or may even provide breed registration papers.
  • may be incorrectly identified as having been born and raised in the United States.

Since an increasing numbers of dogs are adopted from rescues and shelters, the risk of exposure to rabies or other diseases is increasing.  As reported on PRWeb, “demand for adopting rescue animals rather than purchasing animals from breeders or puppy mills” is expected to increase “mainly due to rising consumer awareness about animal shelter overpopulation.”

Recognizing that reality, the time is ripe to introduce regulations that provide for the most accurate and complete medical records of animals, particularly dogs, offered for adoption by shelters and rescue groups in each state.  Those records should include where the dog came from, and include any and all transfers between entities, to provide adoptors with the most accurate information to enable them to provide for the health and well-being of their adopted pet, and the rest of their family.