Society

Pet Transports: Saving Lives or Highway to Hell?

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A major hoarding case in Salem, Oregon this week has set eyes once again on the transporting of shelter pets to other areas and what happens to them. Alicia Inglish had many aliases, claiming to be a "rescue". She was well known in her area, known in such a fashion that she was unable to pull from the local shelters herself. Yet in California she was able to find shelters who would give her up to 80 dogs at a time.

The very group who now have these hoarded dogs in foster care, Oregon Humane, just received a shipment of product/dogs from California in the same week. Why would this agency be bringing in more dogs while their shelter is euthanizing for time and space? Why aren't they taking dogs from the shelter in their backyard?

The Portland Index: Dead Pets Walking - Multnomah County's animal shelter has cut its kill rate, but activists say it could do more.

"Under pressure from no-kill shelter proponents, the county's live-release rate has been increasing. Five years ago, the shelter euthanized 51 percent of animals it took in. Now it puts down 31 percent.

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And half of that 31 percent are dogs. The "live-release rate" is somewhat deceiving but a short explanation is that the 15% euthanization of dogs is that of healthy dogs, not sick or injured, dogs that could have been adopted or put in rehab. There is another side to this coin. Oregon is being besieged to become part of the No Kill movement. As a typical tactic, services are withheld from shelters causing the euthanization rate to go up, thereby giving a voice to No Kill. Transporting product in from out of state insures those agencies of customers, but it takes homes from the shelter animals. Has the humane community sunk so low as to compete with the shelters in such a fashion that causes more deaths?

Another incident of pets being transported into cruel conditions happened in Connecticut. Connecticut did pass legislation last year to regulate these transports out of concern for the spreading of disease. This one was importing dogs from South Carolina.

"That problem had since been fixed, but court records showed dozens of criminal charges have been filed in Milford, accusing him of illegally importing animals.

Even more concerning was that the owner, who is the director of the SPCA of Connecticut, has been in trouble before. Authorities seized the dogs, including Chihuahuas and poodles, around 3 p.m. on Thursday, after they were found suffering inside the unheated barn along Route 63 in Bethlehem. "A lot of them are small dogs they can't keep their temperature up, it's just inhumane conditions." said Judy Umstead with Animal Control." And yes, this one was No Kill.

There are many stories of horror from these transports. Many of these transports are being funded by the Heigl Foundation.

These transport schemes also are opening up another avenue, flipping pets. The Hayden Act in California opens the door for these schemes by holding shelters hostage unless they are willing to push pets out the door to anyone who claims to be a rescue. Shelters don't have the time and staff to check out those receiving groups in other states. Alicia Inglish wasn't allowed to pull from her own local shelters but she found a willing shelter in Porterville, CA. If the Hayden weren't so, then that shelter could have turned her away for the right reasons. If a shelter tells a group no, then they incite others to condemn that shelter, causing more harm to the shelter animals by turning the public away with their accusations. The Hayden lends itself to this practice of flipping. http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/animal-rights/practice-flipping-pets-unacceptable-and-wrong

This is some undercover footage of where these transported pets end up that shows this scheme of flipping.

This is not the first approach by Opposing Views on the issue of these unregulated transports. Here are a couple of excellent articles that certainly raise the question, is this a moral and ethical thing to do?

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/l-a-shelter-dogs-transported-to-canada-rescue-or-ruse

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/are-l-a-s-transported-dogs-stolen-or-rescued

Transporting cattle, horses, other animals are regulated under the US government as well as State's law. These transports are not regulated. Recently a "transporter" from the LA area, a woman who is not allowed to pull from the shelters herself, advertises loading up a UHaul with dogs for transport to the NW. This should not be allowed to happen. You don't put dogs in a UHaul to travel a thousand miles. Another local woman in LA, Bonnie Sheehan, loaded a UHaul with dogs and headed for Virginia. Fortunately she was caught.

There will be more of these cases until laws are passed to regulate these transports. You should not be taking more pets into areas already overloaded with their own problem of overpopulation.

Update

David Lytle, the Oregon Humane Society's Public Affairs Manager, sent in the following:

-- Dunaway’s claim that the Oregon Humane Society neglects dogs in our “own backyard” in favor of accepting animals form California shelters is not true. We took in more than 2,200 pets last year from 51 animal groups in Oregon and Washington. If local shelters do not have pets available, we will certainly work with California shelters to save the lives of pets.

-- Contrary to Dunaway’s assertion, the Oregon Humane Society never euthanizes animals for space and never imposes a time limit on how long a pet remains available for adoption. We adopt over 11,000 pets annually, with a Save Rate of 98% in 2011. All our adoption statistics are published on our website and comply with the most stringent reporting standards.

-- The author next discusses the Multnomah County animal agency and apparently confuses it with OHS. Although located in the Portland area, the county shelter is not affiliated with OHS, is not involved with transfers from out-of-state shelters, and is not caring for any dogs who were rescued from the recent hoarding case in Salem. The author does overlook an amazing accomplishment in Portland. For the last three years, not a single healthy pet has been euthanized by any of the major shelters in our metro area — including Multnomah County Animal Services.

Update 2

Pat Dunaway responds:

To clarify, your LOCAL shelter, Multnomah County, is still euthanizing while you are taking transports from other states. Now my question would be why aren't you making sure all the pets in your LOCAL shelters are served before reaching into other states to bring in pets that take homes from the LOCAL shelter pets? There's no confusion here. And on the subject of those "healthy" pets, how is that determine? Is this couple just confused in this article?

You have not provided anything to show that what you are saying is true. Oregon doesn't have a reporting system like the State of California does where all shelters have to report their numbers and dispositions of pets. So are you saying that Oregon is totally No Kill? And there are no shelters in Oregon that you can pull pets from rather than going into other states?