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Tag: immigration

Bring us your tired, your poor, your … On second thought, don’t bring us anybody

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The American Kennel Club apparently wants to keep dogs rescued from foreign countries out of America, saying they will bring disorder and disease to our pristine shores.

In voicing its opposition to a California bill that would prohibit the sale in pet stores of dogs sourced from professional breeders, the AKC says the law would create a “perverse incentive” to import “greater numbers of street dogs and dogs of unknown origins.”

Limiting the public’s access to purebreds, as the AKC maintains the proposed law would do, would result in the U.S. becoming “a magnet for the world’s strays and sick animals.”

jindolAKC Vice President Sheila Goffe, in a commentary piece published in the Orange County Register, singles out dogs rescued from abusive situations in foreign countries — as my dog was — and portrays them as unpredictable and diseased.

Dogs that come from rescues and shelters, or through rescues and shelters, aren’t as well-screened, as temperament-tested, and as disease-free as breeder-raised dogs purchased at pet stores, she says.

Those “facts” are questionable. That logic is wrong. That stance reeks of snobbery and flies in the face of those words on the plaque at the Statue of Liberty, and what many Americans still think America is all about.

And, as with the immigration debate when it comes to humans, it’s more than a bit ironic, considering all those purebred breeds the AKC celebrates, and makes money from, came from foreign countries.

Of course, the AKC isn’t saying America should ban German shepherds, or Irish setters, or Portuguese water dogs, or even Afghan hounds — or any of the many other breeds who proudly carry their country of origin in their breed names.

Those, assuming they are purebreds, and have their paperwork, and pay their AKC dues, are always welcome here.

The great unwashed masses, though? The dog saved from being turned into meat in Korea? The starving street dog in Afghanistan or some other war torn country? That mangy cur searching for sustenance in the aftermath of an earthquake, tsunami or other far away natural disaster?

The AKC apparently believes they have no place here.

Reasonable people disagree when it comes to how much effort we as Americans should put into saving dogs from overseas. Legitimate arguments can be made on both sides.

Given the shrinking but still mind-boggling number of unwanted dogs that are euthanized in U.S. shelters, given the needs created by our own disasters at home, like Hurricane Harvey, there are those who feel American dogs should come first. Others feel our compassion for animals shouldn’t be limited by boundaries — that we should help dogs who need help, wherever they are.

There’s a place for that debate. But Assembly Bill 245 — still awaiting Senate approval — really isn’t that place.

AB 245 bans the pet store sale of dogs, cats and other pets raised by breeders, who, especially when it comes to puppy mills, aren’t always the rule-following, highly policed and regulated operations the AKC portrays them as.

DSC05635 (2)Saying the law will lead to an influx of unwanted and unsavory foreigners, as the AKC is doing, is the same kind of fear tactic that taints our country’s broader debate over human immigration.

Banning the sale of breeder raised dogs at pet stores will not lead to an influx of Mexican rapist dogs, or Muslim terrorist dogs.

What the bill would do is limit pet stores to dealing in dogs obtained through shelters and rescues — a direction many stores and some local governments have already embraced.

Having visited many humane societies and a few puppy mills, I can tell you that even if shelters face fewer government-imposed restrictions, their dogs are more likely to be temperament-tested, well-adjusted and healthy than those that go the puppy mill to pet store to consumer route.

And we don’t see rescuing mutts or purebreds, from any country, as “perverse.”

“Selling only shelter or rescue dogs creates a perverse incentive to import greater numbers of street dogs and dogs of unknown origins for U.S. retail rescues,” Goffe, who is the AKC’s vice president for government relations, wrote. “In fact, the U.S. already has become a dumping ground for foreign ‘puppy mill’ and rescue dogs, importing close to 1 million rescue dogs annually from Turkey, several countries in the Middle East and as far away as China and Korea, according to the National Animal Interest Alliance.”

(Don’t be too impressed by the reference to NAIA. It is mostly a front group for breeders and agribusiness and the AKC, and it was founded by an AKC board member and a biomedical researcher.)

“It’s a crap shoot whether these foreign street dogs Californians may be adopting are carrying serious diseases,” Goffe added. “That’s because while importation laws require all dogs to be examined by a licensed veterinarian, foreign paperwork is commonly invalid or forged … dogs from other countries are not subject to the health and welfare laws of professionally-bred U.S. dogs.”

The AKC says Californians would lose their freedom to have the kind of dog they want if the law passes, implying that pet stores are the only place one can find a purebred.

That’s not the case. You can generally find any breed of dog in a shelter or rescue — often even locally. And the proposed law would not prevent people from buying dogs directly from breeders.

So fear not, California (even though the AKC would like you to.) Your liberties are not about to be taken away. Your shores are not about to be inundated with sickly, mangy killer dogs who don’t speak English.

And if more dogs rescued from other countries end up in the U.S. — in hopes of saving their lives and making their lives better — chances are they, as with the human immigrants before them, will only enrich our culture, whether we’re talking California or Connecticut.

We’re not a nation of purebreds, no matter what the AKC says — not when it comes to dogs, and not when it comes to people.

(Photos: At top, dogs awaiting slaughter at an outdoor market in Seoul; Jinjja, the rescued Korean dog I adopted; Jinjja and me)

Highway Haiku: Secure the Borders?

“Secure the Borders?”

You’re lucky, white man

That the Navajo Nation

Shares its vast beauty

(Highway Haiku is a regular feature of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing tale of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America. “Dog’s Country” can be found exclusively on ohmidog! To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)

Should Arizona deport Siberian huskies?

Cooling my heels in Phoenix, I’ve been trying to catch up with the latest on SB 1070, the new legislation that will turn Arizona’s police officers into immigration officials, requiring them to check the citizenship of anyone they confront in the course of their duties.

The law makes violating federal immigration laws a state crime, if that makes any sense, and some fear it will lead to large scale profiling and deportations as Arizona takes into its own hands matters it feels the federal government isn’t addressing.

Of course, the law applies to humans, and not dogs, but what if? What if the motivation for it — to keep undocumented foreigners from the shores of a country pretty much built by undocumented foreigners — was applied to the dog kingdom?

What if all the Irish setters –or at least those who lacked the proper paperwork — were sent back to Ireland; or if all the German shepherds were deported to Germany; or if Labrador retrievers, Tibetan Mastiffs, French poodles and Afghan hounds were all sent back to their place of origin?

The dog kingdom would be a much more boring place.

If all of them were required to live where they originated, we wouldn’t have anywhere near the magnificent diversity of dog breeds — not to mention hybrids and mutts — that we enjoy today. It would be so long, Welsh Corgi; seeya, Belgian Malinois; goodbye, Bo, and all other Portuguese water dogs.

Go back to Rhodesia, you Ridgebacks.

Probably, in our haste, we’d even deport Great Danes to Denmark, even though the breed didn’t originate there. (Once local law enforcement and state bureaucracies get involved, mistakes are bound to happen.) And, Siberian huskies, you don’t even want to think about where you’d be banished to.

A valid argument can be made that Siberian huskies shouldn’t be living in Arizona’s heat in the first place – but banishing them, or pestering them for their paperwork so often they decide to leave, obviously isn’t the solution.

If that were the case, I never would have met Sasha and Kodi, brother and sister huskies belonging to Sandy Fairall, who we hung out with yesterday at “Bark Place,” the dog park at Quail Run Park in Mesa.

No pedigree is required to enter, and dogs of all sizes, shapes, backgrounds and colors were playing together nicely. No one was asking anyone else to leave, no one was questioning anyone else’s pedigree, and everyone, dog and human, seemed happy to share the shady spots.

Sandy admits Phoenix is not an ideal locale for the cold weather dogs – something she’s reminded of whenever she heads to the mountains in winter to let them experience their more natural surroundings and play in the snow.

But they seem to be thriving and happy to be here. They seem to have adjusted. They haven’t taken anyone’s job, committed any crimes or put undue strain on the health care system.

I say – paperwork or not — let them stay.