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Global Stray Dog Population is in Crisis; US Humane Relocation Is NOT an Answer.


This is a bit long - but I think it very very important that you read it please.

I get a news letter from this organization and I must tell you I found the article below very interesting – and the biggest question I have, after reading it, is if we have a demand for dogs that outstrips the supply in certain areas of the USA – to such a degree that we are IMPORTING dogs from foreign countries, why are we still euthanizing dogs in shelters every day? Why are not the dogs slated to be euthanized not shipped to the shelters that need adoptable dogs? Some one please explain to me why saving dogs outside our borders is a better solution than saving the ones that are already here and are looking death in the face?

NAIA Animal Policy Review A publication of the National Animal Interest Alliance dedicated to analysis of legislation, regulations, and policies that affect animals and animal owners
Spring 2011 © 2011

Global stray dog population is in crisis; US humane relocation is not an answer By Patti Strand, NAIA founder and chairwoman

The scope of the stray dog problem in many parts of the world is unimaginable by American standards. Street and village dogs have always been part of the developing world’s landscape, but exploding populations, increasing attacks on citizens,(1) and spiraling rabies epidemics have transformed this issue from a third world problem to a global public health priority.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are more than 200 mil lion stray dogs worldwide and that every year, 55 thousand people die from rabies, while another 15 million receive post exposure treatment to avert the deadly disease. Ninety-five percent of these cases occur in Asia and Africa, and 99 per cent of the fatalities are caused by dogs.(2) In Bali alone, the number of stray dogs is estimated at 500 thousand and a rabies epidemic underway since 2008 has already killed 78 people. Despite culling somewhere between 120 thousand and 200 thousand dogs, and vaccinating an estimated 262 thousand dogs, the epidemic rages on. In the face of the continuing epidemic and shortages of human anti-rabies vaccines, the government has banned dogs from the streets altogether — perhaps the first at-large law imposed in this part of the world.(3 4)

The stray dog-driven rabies crisis in Bali is hardly unique: India culls as many as 100 thousand strays at a time,(5) while attacks by marauding packs of dogs in Baghdad have led to a reinstitution of the same eradication program that was operated under Saddam Hussein. Its goal: the culling of over one million stray dogs.(6 7 8) In Bangkok(9) and many other Asian and African locales,(10 11) living with strays and rabies is just an accepted fact of life. An estimated 200 dogs per square kilometer occupy Bangkok, fouling sidewalks and streets, causing traffic accidents and serving as vectors for rabies and other diseases.(12) A nip on the ankle by a stray dog in any of these developing countries quickly jolts Western tourists into the life and death reality of the situation.(13)

Thankfully the stray dog overpopulation crisis has earned the attention of Western humanitarians and animal welfare organizations and businesses, and they’re rallying to the cause. The World Health Organization is working aggressively, often partnering with Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s), to assure that the production and distribution of rabies vaccines and post-exposure treatment keeps up with demand. One of the most effective NGO’s working on the stray dog issue in the developing world is a group of veterinarians and volunteers called Veterinarians Without Borders.(14) They can be found in many of the poorest countries of the world helping impoverished communities develop safe and healthy food supplies and eliminating some of the most dangerous diseases. Neutering and vaccinating stray dogs against rabies is an important part of their work today. At the same time, animal shelters and dog rescue groups are springing up throughout Asia, Eurasia, the Middle East, parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. Some jurisdictions, notably Shanghai and Singapore(15) have built pounds to hold strays, while in other locales, private citizens have formed humane societies and loose-knit groups of volunteers to care for rescued dogs.

These are all good signs. But when Western activists contemplate solutions for the stray dog crisis in the developing world, they need to keep in mind the differences between third world problems and the ones we’ve experienced here. Pet ownership is less common in developing countries; third world strays are seldom dogs that simply wandered off an owner’s property. Instead, they are often semi feral dogs living at the outskirts of human communities, eking out an existence by feeding on human garbage. So vast are the differences between the developing world and the US today, one must reach back to images of American cities in the 1800s for comparison: an age when horses were still the primary mode of transportation, when domestic animals of all species often ran free, and garbage collection hadn’t yet be gun. The eradication measures employed by third world countries — poisoning and s h o o t i n g strays — spark s e n s a t i o n a l headlines and searing criticism in the West, but where people are still struggling to provide food and shelter for their fami lies, where canine rabies is an epidemic, and where there are shortages of rabies vaccine and post exposure treatment, animal control is still a matter of human survival.(16)

Bringing the problem home Starting with many of the same eradication measures currently being employed in third world countries, it took the US nearly a century and a half to get its surplus dog problem under control; indeed, it has only been during the last 10 years that the demand for dogs has become equal to or greater than the supply in many parts of the country. In fact, what the US has today is a dog distribution problem, not a dog overpopulation problem — a situation that has led to a practice labeled humane relocation.(17)

In some parts of the USA today, demand for dogs so far outstrips supply that the public — bolstered by state-of-the art advertising campaigns for rescued dogs — are willing, even anxious, to adopt dogs with severe behavioral and medical problems. Where healthy, well-tempered, adoptable dogs were once euthanized by the millions for lack of shelter space, Americans today are lining up to pay large sums of money to adopt problem dogs; ones that are blind, deaf, missing limbs or suffer from serious behavioral issues or chronic diseases.

Organizations that began their work when there was still a serious surplus dog problem in the US are now bringing in dogs from any place they can find them and asking their kind-hearted donors to fund costly surgeries to correct heart defects and other problems so that the dogs they’ve rescued can be saved.(18) Other groups import maimed dogs for adoption into the US from great distances, even foreign countries where street dogs are plentiful.(19)

A recent shipment of 222 dogs from Puerto Rico illustrates how multi-faceted, ill-conceived and widespread the practice of importing street dogs into main land USA has become.(20) Although dogs are regularly shipped into the Northeastern states from Puerto Rico, this particular shipment, arranged by the Puerto Rico Animal Welfare Society, was motivated by the opportunity to win a $100 thousand grant. The ASPCA offered the prize to the organization with the largest adoption participation in an event called Second Chance for Love adopt a-thon. The dogs involved in this venture were headed to one of the many participating pet supply stores that use rescue dogs as a loss leader to at tract shoppers.

After being airlifted to Florida for a layover, though, more than 100 of the dogs broke with parvovirus and distemper, 107 of them eventually dying. As it turned out, many of the dogs in the shipment were infested with hook worms, round worms and coccidia, and although the dogs were supposed to be four months old and healthy to participate in the contest, some were only four weeks old and shockingly, had already been altered. None of these dogs ever made it out of Florida. Instead, they remained there and received veterinary treatments valued at $185 thousand and were adopted out through local shelters.

Canine strain rabies in indigenous US dogs was officially pronounced eradicated in 2006 by the Centers for Disease Control, but since then a number of rabid dogs have been imported, nearly all rescue dogs from countries with ongoing rabies epidemics. These dogs have come from a variety of locales including Puerto Rico, Thailand, India, and others described in official CDC publications.(21) The rescue programs engaged in this practice have very appealing names that sound like they were created by advertising professionals, names such as Operation Baghdad Pups.

Perhaps the positive image confuses the issue and blunts the critical thinking this totally irresponsible practice should evoke. Indeed, this group has continued shipping dogs to the United States and following the infected shipment, the group expressed their concern in a press release saying they hoped the rabid puppy doesn’t tarnish their image.(22) Pretending that rescuing dogs from developing countries with ongoing rabies epidemics is helping solve problems is not only shortsighted, it’s dangerous. At best it rep resents a shallow form of sentimentality, not true kindness.

At worst, importing street dogs is a cynical form of old fashioned greed on the part of the organizations and businesses that are trading in them. Judging by their IRS 990 forms, the shelters importing these dogs are making a handsome profit on them, retaining their traditional image as shelters and marketing their product as unregulated pet stores.

To actually improve animal welfare, NAIA recommends that rescuers put their resources into developing low cost spay-neuter and vaccination programs at the source of the problems instead of rescuing and sending street dogs to the US. If advertisements on the websites of Puerto Rican rescue groups aren’t stretching the truth, they’re spending as much as $1800 to rehabilitate one street dog, more money than the average Puerto Rican household makes in one month.(23) There’s something wrong with this picture.

Additionally, one reason that the import problem is mushrooming in the US is because our federal laws governing the import of dogs are out of date. NAIA continues to urge our lawmakers and administrators to strengthen these laws immediately.(24) Otherwise a preventable tragedy will occur. The incubation period for rabies is variable and can be quite lengthy, and the laws and quarantine requirements are not sufficient to prevent exposure. With large numbers of imported dogs from rabies endemic areas entering the US pet trade, weak federal import laws, and state and local laws that specifically exempt the traffickers from regulation be cause they are supposed to be operating as humane shelters, the public is vulnerable to this irresponsible activity.

Finally, it is sad that stray dogs ever have to be killed, but to attempt to apply American no-kill philosophy to parts of the world where dogs are suffering as well as threatening human life is unrealistic and harmful. We recommend to the reader, the words of Mahatma Ghandi on the subject: “A roving dog without an owner is a danger to society and a swarm of them is a menace to its very existence... If we want to keep dogs in towns or villages in a decent manner no dog should be suffered to wander. There should be no stray dogs even as we have no stray cattle... But can we take individual charge of these roving dogs? Can we have a pinjrapole for them? If both these things are impossible then there seems to me no alternative except to kill them... it is an insult to the starving dog to throw a crumb at him. Roving dogs do not indicate compassion and civilization in society; they betray instead the ignorance and lethargy of its members... that means we should keep them and treat them with respect as we do our companions and not allow them to roam about.” — quoted from www.Karmayog.com

1. http://blogs.forbes.com/michaelnoer/2011/01/25/re porter-dodges-packs-of-feral-dogs-while-testing-computer equipment/ 2. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs099/en/ index.html
3. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/08/02/world/ main6736299.shtml
4. http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/stray-dogs-to-be come-pariahs-in-rabies-war/391101
5. http://www.azcentral.com/offbeat/articles/ 0306killingdogs06-on.html?&wired
6. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/ 2010/07/10/AR2010071002235.html
7. http://feraljundi.com/2010/06/12/iraq-baghdad-to-cull-a million-stray-dogs/
8. http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2010/07/12/ ml_iraq_stray_dogs
9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stray_dogs_in_Bangkok
10. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/ 080306-AP-kashmir-kil.html
11. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/12/ angola.rabies/index.html
12. http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/273918
13. http://stophavingaboringlife.com/dog-bite-in-bangkok and-rabies-vaccines/
14. http://www.vetswithoutbordersus.org/
15. http://jaagruti.org/2010/08/30/rabies-and-street-dog population-control-in-india-in-2010-problems-and-solutions/
16. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/ 080306-AP-kashmir-kil.html
17. http://www.naiaonline.org/articles/archives/ humane_insane.htm
18. http://www.animalleague.org/support/support-rescue m e d i c a l - p r o g r a m s / h e l p - m e - h e a l / a n i m a l s / reese.html?autologin=true
19. http://thebark.com/print/2909?page=show
20. http://www.prdailysun.com/ ?page=news.article&id=1286246678
21. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ mm5739a3.htm
22. http://www.petfinder.com/pet-news/us-rabies-warning linked-to-baghdad-pups.html
23. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ List_of_U.S._states_by_income 24. http


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I get a news letter from this organization and I must tell you I found the article below very interesting – and the biggest question I have, after reading it, is if we have a demand for dogs that outstrips the supply in certain areas of the USA – to such a degree that we are IMPORTING dogs from foreign countries, why are we still euthanizing dogs in shelters every day? Why are not the dogs slated to be euthanized not shipped to the shelters that need adoptable dogs? Some one please explain to me why saving dogs outside our borders is a better solution than saving the ones that are already here and are looking death in the face?

Couldn't agree more.


First we are sponsoring and adopting kids from other countries while ignoring the ones here in our OWN country. Now it's dogs. Why can't people open their eyes and see what's out there in their own yards?
Sorry guys. I'll keep my political thoughts to myself now before I go balistic!


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I have said it before and I will say it again - IT IS EASIER for people to BELIEVE a LIE than the truth.

PETA and HSUS have used they in their ad campaigns very successfully. Good people want to help - they don't investigate the organization. Humane Society of the United States is a very powerful and well chosen name. It was intentionally chosen to MISLEAD and touch the hearts of good citizens who care everywhere.

They don't think beyond those tear jerking commercials. They see a poor sad dog in need and they open their hearts and their pocket books to line HSUS and Wayne Pacelle's pockets - so he can jet set around the country - live in a mansion funded with YOUR (the YOUR not being US but the other YOUR) $19.00 a month donations.

Ingrid H

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There are a lot of dogs being redistributed around the US as an alternative to euthanizing them in areas where there are surplus dogs in the shelters. There was even an Animal Planet series about the pet transports. But the job of getting the dogs moved to the underpopulated shelters could be done better here at home. Shelters in my state (Maine) import a lot of dogs from south-eastern states. The adoption fees are high, but the dogs still get placed

Importing dogs from foreign countries seems like as much a solution to the problem of overpopulation as pissing on a forest fire... With the money that is being spent on the importation and rehabilitation something that would really make a difference to the people in these developing countries could be done. Unfortunately, the humane thing to do (mass culling) doesn't inspire many westerners to open thier pocketbooks and make donations.

It seems too dangerous to import potentially rabid dogs and too dangerous to let them roam and multiply on their own soil. I doubt the people who live in fear of these ferral animals would argue with them being killed.


Ingrid it is good to know that there IS internal re-distribution going on in the US - to me that makes sense, much more sense that importing dogs from areas where you know there have been no vaccinations - the thought of Canine Rabies being reintroduced and us having Rabies outbreaks again is a scary proposition.

I also wondered whether this money spent importng wild stray dogs was the best use of donated funds?

I have no contacts in rescue but also wondered about the statement below, I don't mind any shelter making a profit, as long as the profit is used to save more dog, not put them to sleep because of no space or funds to handle them til adoption.

At worst, importing street dogs is a cynical form of old fashioned greed on the part of the organizations and businesses that are trading in them. Judging by their IRS 990 forms, the shelters importing these dogs are making a handsome profit on them, retaining their traditional image as shelters and marketing their product as unregulated pet stores.


Ingrid H

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Petfinder has been a god-send for rescue people in the south wishing to place their excess dogs in the north-east where we actually have a major shortage of puppies due to the message of spay and neuter taking hold almost in a cultural way.
The Animal Planet TV series titled Last Chance Highway showed just how redistribution works. The woman in the show visits her area high kill shelters and pulls dogs and puppies that have good adoption potential, takes them home and lists them on Petfinder. Once she finds a home for a dog, she schedules transport on Peterson Express Transport Services (P.E.T.S.) Here's the route P.E.T.S. takes weekly: http://www.petsllc.net/routes.php
From what I understand, pick-ups and drop-offs are made all along the route. Of course the cost of transport is passed along to the person who is adopting the dog, but there doesn't seem to be a shortage of people willing to pay the price.
Here's a Today Show interview about the TV series for those who missed it :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHm93fm-UWQ


Wow -I had no clue that rescues were this organized to do this re-distirbution, but its a wonderful idea and solution - So Ingrid - can we not get enough dogs from like florida or other southern states - that I hear kills them first and asks questions later - to meet the demand for dogs in the NE? do we really need to import wild dogs from outside the country? just seems to be a total shame that dogs in this country are dieing just because the are in the wrong state.

The other thing I am wondering, is do we have an idea of how the percentage of dogs, put to sleep in shelters, breaks down between purebred, and mixed breed, and then I am also wondering what percent of the shelter population is APBT or mixes thereof?

The reason I am asking is that I have many rescue groups on my FB and there seems to be an overwhelming amount of APBT or mix pit bulls that are listed.

Ingrid H

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I really don't know the answers to the majority of your questions Trinitydobes, but I don't think there is any need of importing dogs from overseas. We have plenty of dogs in the USA to go around, the risk of bringing canine diseases into the country is too high to justify the practice, and I honestly believe that "wild" or ferral dogs are poor candidates for adoption because of their lack of early socialization with humans.

There was a little "street dog" from Puerto Rico at the shelter at the time when I adopted Ladybug. From what I understand, that dog's adoption was successful. A little trivia- the owner of RIP Sasha the Doberman (of YouTube fame) had the second dog he adopted after Sasha's death delivered to New Hampshire by Peterson Express Transport Services :D


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We know of a husband/wife team actively involved in capturing street dogs in Turkey and shipping them to some U.K. animal welfare group that adopts them out in the UK. I believe they do this in conjunction with a vet hospital there in Turkey where she works and the dogs are treated, not sure how much or how intensively. We both know animal shelters are full of dogs from the UK that need adoption. The UK has been rabies free since the 1950's! This smacks of idiocy. Living here in the middle of nowhere, strays dumped out often chase livestock - the answer is often a bullet. That may sound hard hearted, but there is a great deal of money and work tied up in livestock. This is why our dogs are fenced in, to protect them. About the only exception is LGDs, they are recognized as not likely to attack livestock or people. (I just hope they all have rabies vaccinations....)

We actually told them this (not that they are idiots) they seemed horrified that dogs get shot around here. So do coyotes, skunks, raccoons etc. There are good reasons for that action being taken. I do pity the dogs people dump... they are not good at fending for themselves. Compared to letting them starve or suffer through illness or injury, a bullet is a kinder option.