“We’re running out of rescue dogs. So many people are adopting!” a friend recently said to me.
At least, that’s what a recent NPR piece led her to believe.
Anytime rescue dogs are in the news, I’m happy. Any press is good press, right? So I listened to the story with an open mind (plus I love NPR. I live in Brooklyn, I’m required to).
The number of dogs getting adopted each year is increasing, it’s true. More and more people are starting to understand rescue dogs aren’t broken, and are just as valuable to our lives as dogs that come with fancy papers: And yes, that is awesome. But running out?
1. “Over the past two decades, there have been big changes in animal shelters and the pet industry. With the growth of pet rescue groups, the demand for dogs now outstrips the supply of those available for adoption in many states.”
I run our BarkBuddy App (think Tinder for rescue pups) and it’s true MILLIONS of dog profiles have been viewed through the app. There clearly is a demand for pups in shelters and rescues.
However, this demand is still sadly outstripped by the supply. Although the numbers are very rough (since there isn’t one group that gathers data from all shelters and rescues), in general there are 17 million people in the U.S. each year interested in acquiring a new pet — and 4 million dogs and cats that at the end of said year, still find themselves without a home. Plus, about 2 million dog euthanizations happen yearly in the U.S. alone.
2. “Dog Trafficking”
Ok, so this issue doesn’t ACTUALLY have to do with dogs driving cars. There are two opposing views in the animal welfare community on transporting rescue animals. One argument is if there are dogs in need right in your own backyard, why are you helping a neighbor out? No state is exempt from abandoned dogs.
The other argument is all lives are worth saving – and some of the animals being put down in other areas of the country (or world) are more overpopulated and in dire need of support. The dilemma in a nutshell, is this: you have one Lab mix in your backyard, or a dozen chihuahua puppies next door, and you have to choose between them. Heartbreaking decision, no?
Another big part of the problem lies with, well, people’s preferences. Certain breeds are more in demand, others are misunderstood. To say it’s complicated is an understatement.
3. “Retail Rescues”
Despite how it sounds, this term has nothing to do with fashion. Rescue work is anything but glamorous. NPR states:
“Patti Strand, director of the National Animal Interest Alliance, an organization that represents the American Kennel Club and dog breeders, calls it ‘retail rescue.’
‘There is a lot of money in this new kind of rescue that has emerged,’ she says. ‘These groups move dogs from just about any place that they can get them.'”
Of the 2,500 rescue partners we work with, I can only come up with a handful that take a salary. In fact, I wish more would – I can’t think of a better full-time job, saving animals and supporting your family doing it.
4. Health Concerns
The NPR article also raised a point regarding the health issues transported rescue pups often bring with them. And yes, I completely agree that conducting unhealthy, infectious dogs into your community is serious issue. However most rescues do everything they can to ensure animals are transported with a clean bill of health – if not, they could foot a hefty medical bill.
In general, I do think we need to keep better records and hold all organizations (including pet stores and breeders) accountable for sending, transporting, or adopting out sick animals.
So what do you think? Should we limit transporting dogs across state and country lines? What are the alternatives? Do you think we could eventually run out of rescue dogs? Then what?
Danielle is the Director of BarkGood, where she works on things like BarkBuddy to help hoomans find their perfect match with a fluffy single in their area!