Another report has surfaced about the largely unregulated, but highly profitable retail rescue industry importing puppies from the South, where irresponsible dog breeding is rampant, to eager pet owners in the North East who have bought into the propagandized message to “adopt not shop.”

In this case, as reported by Taylor Rapalyea in the article titled “Neglected, ill dogs often sold with tales of mistreatment,” crate loads of dogs were crammed into a trailer pulled over in Strafford, Connecticut, being allegedly transported by Deanalyn Reing—who runs Southern Dogs Rescue of Auburn, Ala—from the south to Rhode Island for sale for as much as $300 per dog.

Reportedly: “[t]he encounter was familiar to police and animal control authorities, who say a multistate, lucrative network of questionable and illegal dog sales runs a pipeline of puppies from the South to the Northeast.”

Unwitting consumers, thinking they are doing the right thing by “rescuing” a pet, have been duped by fraudulent tales from

[d]og sellers present[ing] the canines with heart-tugging tales of Southern kill shelters. They also describe residents of the South as uninterested in preventing unwanted puppies through regular spaying and neutering.

This is big money: at $300 per dog, a rescue operation that does not give the animals proper medical attention or humane transport conditions can make $420,000 a year for 1,400 dogs, said Raymond Connors, an animal control officer for the state. . . ‘It’s a multimillion-dollar industry,’ he said.

Some Southern rescues are legitimate, register with the state and follow all local regulations regarding animal transport and care. But the sketchy South-to-North dog sales had become so common and so uncontrolled that the state stepped in with new regulatory laws in 2011 to help the Department of Agriculture keep track of the importers and charge those who break the law.

Since the onslaught of retail rescue activity in the North East which began after legitimate rescue efforts ensued following Hurricane Katrina, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut have strengthened their laws governing the importation of pets from other states, particularly those in shelter and rescue channels. Knowing that these channels represent the greatest risk from the entry of infectious diseases in the pets imported, the states have adopted a number of regulations to gain greater control over the importation of pets so that owners and other animals are not exposed to diseases that could be serious, even fatal.

For example in 2013, 15 people who were exposed to rabies,  a nearly 100% fatal virus, from a puppy from Georgia adopted by a family in Vermont, had to be treated for exposure to rabies.

To my knowledge, there has never been such exposure to this deadly virus from a puppy sold by a pet store.

It is time to shine the spotlight on  retail rescue so that consumers can understand the risk they are taking by buying pets from random, unknown sources with no required preventive medical care and treatment.

In stark contrast, pet stores, who sell puppies from highly regulated breeders and dealers are suffering and have been forced out of business because of the fraudulent misinformation that has been disseminated by organizations with decades-long campaigns to annihilate the commercial pet market, claiming that these family run businesses are purchasing puppies from purported puppy mills.

Nothing could be further from the truth, which hopefully still matters.