No, we don’t need the government to save us from unregulated dog adoptions

If you have adopted a dog from a no-kill shelter or one of those foster-based rescue organizations in recent years, you may know rescue dogs get moved around a lot.

Typically the way this works is that animal-loving volunteers collect dogs from crowded shelters in poorer or more rural areas where they risk being euthanized and transfer them to wealthier and more urban areas where a higher population and better-funded rescue organizations can ensure they are safely placed in a new home.

For example, one of my dogs, Abby, was transferred from a kill shelter somewhere near Richmond, Virginia, up to a rescue shelter in the Washington, D.C., area, whereupon my husband and I jumped through so many hoops and paid so much money for the privilege of having all our clothes and furniture covered in great quantities of fur.

As a moment’s common sense reveals, this system is good, but not perfect. Sometimes a dog with a history of serious abuse and/or aggression — a dog that, sadly, may need to be euthanized or perhaps only adopted to a very experienced dog trainer — slips through the cracks and is accidentally re-homed with an unsuspecting new owner, with tragic results.

That seems to be what happened in an awful story of a fatal attack by a rescue dog in Virginia Beach earlier this year, a story that has now become the impetus behind a push for federal regulation of dog transfers and adoptions. The Virginia-Pilot reports:

[T]here are no laws in the U.S. about tracking dogs moving across state lines. Rescue groups say they self-police and emphasize transparency, but critics say the lack of regulation may put adopters at risk if they unwittingly take in dogs with behavioral problems. They say details about a dog’s past aggression can be lost in the shuffle or obscured by well-meaning rescuers.

The supporters of this proposal are undoubtedly well-intended, but their plan is unnecessary and comes with plenty of its own risks.

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Photo: Bonnie Kristian