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Rescue. At What Cost? – Editor’s note:


We had already interviewed Laurie and finished this story in February, when the The Washington Post ran a provocative piece in April by Kim Kavin. Featuring a sensationalized headline, the arti- cle discredited the practice of rescue groups purchasing dogs at auctions as fraudulent and included the use of the terms “retail rescuers” and “hypocritical dilettantes” as the names breeders call the rescue group volunteers. The article prompted a response by the Mike Bober,


President of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) a pet industry trade group and a leading commercial breeders’ advocacy organization. “Federal regulators should require all organizations that operate as pet dealers under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) be licensed as such, regardless of the tax status of the group. Under the AWA, the purchasing and reselling of dogs fits the definition of ‘pet dealer’ activity and is subject to licensure and inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).” The standards governing the care of dogs and cats in com-


mercial breeding facilities are set forth by the AWA. The USDA is the agency responsible for overseeing the commercial dog breed- ing industry and enforcing the AWA. The AWA only requires the bare minimum in housing facilities and care. USDA inspectors have a record of leniency towards commercial breeders and there- fore the USDA does not effectively enforce the AWA. What’s more, the USDA removed a searchable database of inspection reports from its website in 2017. Even after restoration, some doc- uments are no longer available. For most dedicated rescuers, buying dogs is the antithesis of


all they work and live for. Nathan Winograd, Executive Director of the national No Kill Advocacy Center, wrote a commentary in response to the article, including what the article did not do, including not proving that this is a pervasive problem. Overall, only 86 rescue groups were involved, buying 5,761 dogs since 2009. “There is nothing in The Post piece that would therefore


stain rescue groups in general, demonstrate that rescue groups need to be regulated more broadly, or that, like a follow-up Huffington Post piece suggested, people have to increase their dili- gence about the reputability of most rescue groups,” wrote Winograd. “The article did not show that all the rescue groups involved are behaving inappropriately and, to the contrary, some — in fact many — appeared to be acting out in service to the dogs’ best interest. Third, it did not show that rescue groups in general — including breed rescue groups — are “flush with dona- tions.” For the vast majority of rescuers, rescue is financially debil- itating, not lucrative. The alarmist headline in the online version of the article did a disservice to the content.” Winograd goes on to write that while the number is not


large overall, relative to the shelter-rescue market, it is significant in terms of the auction market, of which there are only two. At the largest of these, the one which handles about 85% of the dogs auctioned in the country, some 40% of the buyers are rescuers. “If breeders are breeding for the rescue market as the


breeders quoted in the article indicate, we have a problem that needs to be addressed,” said Winograd.


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