Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Good Intentions Gone Awry

"There are thousands upon thousands of dogs that come into Canada every year, and it's a completely unregulated process."
"Animals aren't supposed to make it into the country if they're sick, but we see it all the time."
"Why is a sick dog that has not been vaccinated against rabies and which can barely hold itself up ... allowed into the country?"
Scott Weese, Canada research chair, zoonotic [animal-to-human] diseases, Ontario Veterinary College

"The new reality is that translocation of animals, whether wild or domesticated, can drastically change an area's local rabies risk picture from one day to the next. Fresh approaches are needed."
Catherine Filejski, public health veterinarian, Ontario Health Ministry

"We're pushing the limits now, without any regulation, without anything, in effect, to slow this down."
"I don't know how bad it can get but I don't want to wait to find out."
Linda Rohdin, founder, Air Angels rescue group
Andrej  Isakcovic/AFP/Getty Images
Andrej Isakcovic/AFP/Getty Images   A photo taken on Jan. 28, 2014, shows stray dogs, among 450 that had found shelter and food in an improvised facility run by volunteers in Nis, 200 km south of Belgrade.

One of her volunteers, said Linda Rohdin, doing research on long-distance adoption, sifted through Facebook postings and by that expedient counted no fewer than 600 dogs that had been brought into the country in the space of one week. Duane Landais of Edmonton, former president of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association adds: "There's probably tens of thousands of dogs coming into Canada every year, from areas where we don't know the disease status."

And it isn't just rabies. A whole spectrum of diseases have come into Alberta with the popular advent of foreign rescue dogs. Parasites rarely encountered in Canada, for one thing, and instances of Brucella canis, a virulent bacterium capable of infecting humans. Rescue dogs, according to Dr. Weese, have brought distemper, fatally infecting local dogs. Migrant dogs have also brought in leishmaniasis, a tropical disease capable of affecting both people and animals.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images   A stray dog is seen in January 2015 in Athens, where homeless canines are a common sight.

It's not as though there are no rules and regulations in place. The Canada Food Inspection Agency does have strict rules for the importaton of young dogs for commercial purposes. These regulations, however, are geared toward puppy mills, and rescue dogs present a whole other story, arriving with travellers who on entry to Canada claim them as their own, and presenting rabies certification which can be falsified.

The Public Health Agency of Canada's Communicable Disease Report points out another practise, that of adopting dogs from Canada's far north, from isolated First Nations communities. Dogs brought in from those venues bring with them allied problems. Puppies flown in from northern Quebec to Montreal and from Nunavut to Alberta and Saskatchewan between 2012 and 2014 appeared healthy.

They later developed rabies and the upshot was that some among them were euthanized while dozens of people were then treated for rabies.
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images    Stray dogs use a pedestrian crossing on a busy street in the centre of Athens on Jan. 27, 2015.

This is a humanitarian trend, to rescue dogs from areas or geographic places where their lives are threatened, or where they have no lives to speak of. Well-meaning people become involved with the intention of doing good, hardly realizing the complications that can, and do result. A federal government journal recently documented three instances of stray puppies taken from Nunavut or northern Quebec where rabies is endemic among Arctic foxes ... leading to the situation where their new owners discovered the pups were rabid.

Dogs have been arriving in Canada from the Caribbean, Latin America, east Asia and the Middle East. Bogus rabies-vaccination certificates are used to expedite the dogs into Canada. Dr. Weese pointed out a crowd-sourcing campaign for a puppy that a Canadian tourist had happened to come across wandering about in Ecuador, "very sick". The dog was brought to Ottawa, and a veterinarian diagnosed parvovirus.

A stray dog and its puppy sit behind the railings in the middle of a highway outside Sochi, Russia, on Nov. 28, 2013. A cull was ordered on stray dogs prior to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, resulting in some dogs being rescued by Westerners.
Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP   A stray dog and its puppy sit behind the railings in the middle of a highway outside Sochi, Russia, on Nov. 28, 2013. A cull was ordered on stray dogs prior to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, resulting in some dogs being rescued by Westerners.

Now, the council of all provincial chief veterinary officers is involved in preparing a statement that calls for greater regulation. Concomitantly, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has also determined that action should be taken and they are in the process of drafting their own position. "Trans-boundary" shipments of dogs should include mandatory registration and a quarantine period, according to both veterinarians and dog advocates.

The plight of homeless and stray dogs around the world is heart-breaking; you bet it is. It is nothing short of devastating to many people to see these creatures in need, and not to respond to help them. If people who do respond in a manner they feel will be of estimable aid to a homeless animal because of their concern wonder why it is that the animal is in that situation to begin with, it is obviously because their feelings of empathy are not universally shared.

Those living in the area where the dogs roam, learning to look after their own needs to survive if they can as feral animals, obviously feel no overall societal responsibility to involve themselves to ensure that they are cared for. What the solution is within a society that shuns such responsibility is anyone's guess. But then, as human beings we're not so great at looking after the welfare and basic human rights of other human beings either.



Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet