Adopting a rescue pet may just be the best decision you have ever made. You may find you have saved and enriched the life of a needy, unwanted dog or cat all while saving and enriching your life and that of your family. But there are some very scary loopholes in the rescuing community that may end up causing significant worries for an unwary adopter.
Human nature propels many of us to save the saddest or most needy case. The internet has proven very effective at allowing the adopter to see the wide and varied population of needy pets. No longer are we limited to the sad and needy cute pets at our local shelter, but we have access to saving the even sadder and needier cute pets from the next county, state or even country.
Upstate New Yorkers have proven themselves to make very responsible dog owners overall. Currently, while upstate shelters still have a great need to place unwanted adult dogs, they have to ship in young dogs and puppies to meet our demand for this age group. We should celebrate our success at population control for dogs! Many of the puppies you met at the shelters come from southern states or even Puerto Rico. While there may be problems with these dogs coming in with heavy internal parasites loads (worms), this is a treatable and reversible to healthy problem. Less commonly, these dogs may come up North carrying heartworm disease. While heartworm disease is more costly and complex to treat, many of these also can be cured and returned to full health.
More recently we have come across dogs shipped into the United States to be adopted through various rescue groups that are imported from foreign countries like Spain. Some of these dogs are coming here because they are not considered adoptable in their home country and are being saved by big hearted rescue groups that know these dogs are slated to be euthanized. However, they are not considered adoptable in their home countries because they have or are carriers of serious diseases. It happens that some of these diseases are foreign to our country (not here on a routine basis). These diseases are contagious to other animals, or even people, often through biting insects. We have plenty of biting insects, mosquitos, flies, fleas and ticks, here!
My worry, as a veterinarian, is that there will be both an individual and local/regional price to pay for this generosity of heart. These diseases are often not only costly to treat, many cannot be cured, and if transmitted to other animals and people may result in outbreaks of diseases we have not had to manage before.
Please investigate the background of the dog you have fallen in love with before making the adoption. We discourage anyone from adopting dogs brought in from a foreign country. We have plenty of needy, loving pets without having to go to foreign countries to get them.
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