Pet column raises ire of local rescuer
Aug 11, 2013 | 1669 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
To The Editor:

Many Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island friends have told me how their lives have been enriched, their capacity for love increased, and their families completed because of a rescue dog from the South.

That’s only one of many reasons I take exception with a statement made by Sue Little in her [column in a recent Sunday edition] of the Cleveland Daily Banner.

I have been involved in the day-to-day operations of rescuing dogs and cats in the South and finding them forever homes in the Northeast for the last four years. I work alongside some of the most amazing animal welfare and shelter reform advocates in the country, one of whom is Cindy Rhoda, director of Pooches on the Move Cooperative.

Ms. Rhoda, through her work, sacrifice and perseverance, has built up a network of rescue organizations, foster homes and transport services to ensure the safe and healthy delivery of thousands of dogs and cats — who would have died in Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana and Alabama “shelters” — to loving, welcoming families across the Northeast.

Ms. Little’s friend should be aware that the network of rescues who are part of the Pooches on the Move Cooperative (as well as those delivered by an equally stellar transport service out of Cookeville — Pets LLC) follow a strict protocol of veterinary requirements before a dog or cat is transported ... removing almost any likelihood that “... infectious diseases such as parvovirus and mosquito and tick-borne illnesses, common in the South” are being transfered with the companion animal.

Protocols include the animal receiving a complete set of vaccinations (for puppies this means at least three distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza inoculations) before transport. Dogs must also receive kennel cough and rabies vaccinations, be heartworm-tested, on heartworm prevention, and flea/tick free before transport. Cats must be tested for feline leukemia and inoculated with the FVRCP, rabies and feline leukemia vaccinations. All animals are spayed or neutered prior to transport and are quarantined at least two weeks outside of a shelter setting before the trip.

In addition to all of this, each animal goes for a health inspection with an accredited veterinarian and must receive an Interstate Health Certificate, verifying that the animal has no contagious diseases based upon the veterinarian’s examination, before transport. This health inspection includes a fecal test to ensure the pet is also free of intestinal parasites.

I would put the veterinary protocol of the Pooches on the Move Cooperative rescues up against the protocols of any local rescue — some of which release animals to adopters without even spaying and neutering them, which only contributes to the companion animal overpopulation problem with which we continue to grapple in the South.

What we can learn from the Northeast is that the overpopulation of companion animals is a problem that can be solved with aggressive, affordable and accessible spay/neuter. I have to wonder why Ms. Little chose to devote her column space to attacking a solution to the South’s companion animal overpopulation problem when the space could have been so much better used to save lives by addressing the issues that create the problem.

These issues include “rescues” and individual companion animal guardians who fail to spay/neuter the animals in their care. These issues include backyard breeders, so-called “responsible” breeders and puppy mills that continue to flood a saturated “market” with living beings in the hopes of turning a dollar. Their profits are made on the deaths of other dogs and cats.

I also question Ms. Little’s use of an anonymous source. I can name the friends I cited in the first paragraph of my letter, and there are hundreds who are willing to testify that adopting a companion animal from the South has been nothing but a lifesaving, life-altering experience on their end.

What we continue to see in Ms. Little’s columns are attacks on humane solutions. A few months ago it was an attack on trap-neuter-return based upon the citation of another “friend.”

The world is changing and we as a society are saying that it is no longer acceptable to hold mass executions of companion animals in taxpayer-funded facilities. The old regime of capture and kill seems to be the one that Ms. Little endorses with her continued attack on solutions.

It’s time for Ms. Little to join the progressions of the animal welfare/animal rights movement or to admit she is no ally to those working day and night to save companion animal lives.

— Bethney Foster