Animal Welfare

Reading Series: Dogland – Dogs for Dollars [#readathon post]

As part of the 24 hour readathon (I don’t think I’ll make it 24 hours! I’m only halfway there…) I wanted to read, and hopefully finish, Dogland.

The chapter I read tonight is about bad rescues and the harm they cause to the animal rescue movement.

“I realized that rescue had become part of the pet trade and that there was a lot of selling going on for profit, and that a lot of so-called rescues were preying on the emotions of adopters.” – Libby Williams, of Pet Watch New Jersey


Chuchi @ the vet clinic by Paul David. Used under a Creative Commons license via Flickr.

The chapter begins with a small puppy named Charlie, adopted from a “rescue” who was selling sick dogs. Charlie was afflicted with parvovirus.

Have you ever had an experience with a bad rescue, like what happened to the pet owners of Charlie? I personally haven’t, although I have heard many tales. This shouldn’t be all that surprising; as Dogland author Jacki Skole points out, “there are no federal rules and virtually no state regulations regarding rescues.” Remember how in previous posts, there were discussions on animal rescue operations pulling dogs from the South and transporting them to the North? Of course this is generally a good thing, but when there are no regulations for pet rescue organizations – and if there are any, there is little to no oversight – these bad rescues can take advantage of shelters. It’s in the best interests of the shelters to reduce the number of animals in their control as quickly as they can, thereby reducing euthanasia rates. The dogs taken from these shelters by these ill-intentioned rescues are not vetted, which means the dogs leave without any health screenings. The dogs then get adopted out, potentially carrying and spreading diseases. These kinds of rescues also charge adoptees  a lot of money for them, and then leave them to deal with the health care costs alone.

“For every good rescue that exists – and there are good ones – there is a bad one.” – Captain Rick Yocum, NJSPCA

While some rescues are out to make money off unsuspecting adoptees looking for a new pet, there are people who get involved in animal rescue with good intentions but then end up causing harm. These people are hoarders, and the chapter discusses hoarding through a case study of an animal rescuer in New Jersey. I liked that Jacki took the time to interview the hoarder for her perspective on the issue. While I don’t condone what hoarders do, and if they’re committing acts of cruelty then they should be penalized for them, I also think hoarders need mental health services and we need to understand how and why well-intentioned animal rescue situations become hoarding situations.

When animal rescues behave this way, it puts animals’ lives at risk. If someone has a bad experience with a rescuer, they may not choose to adopt the next time they want a pet. They’ll tell others about their situation, and that may turn off more people from going to a shelter or a rescue, too. These bad rescues make the movement look distrustful and even criminal. And as a result, the animals are the ones suffering – and dying – because of human greed. If you have had a bad experience with a rescue organization or individual, please report them to the proper authorities (e.g. your local SPCA, police department, Dept. of Agriculture).

What do you think about what I’ve just wrote? Leave a comment or tweet me @ThePawReport!

Previous Posts:

Dogland: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Dog Problem can be purchased directly through Ashland Creek Press.

Interested in a preview? A book excerpt is available here.



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