This Spring, the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture issued a "cease and desist" order to prevent animal shelters and animal rescue organizations from bringing dogs into Massachusetts from out of state, and putting them up for adoption. The only alternative is to house imported dogs in regulated facilities (which the shelters and rescue orgs must buy, establish and maintain); and have them examined by a state-approved veterinarian. The order effectively puts dog rescue organizations out of business.
At The Doggie Den we work with Save A Dog, an all-breed rescue organization based in Framingham, MA. Like virtually all such organizations, it is staffed by volunteers and operates on an extremely tight budget that consists solely of funds that the volunteers raise. On their own time and money, volunteers drive to locations where distressed dogs are being held, and bring the dogs back to Massachusetts. The new arrivals live in volunteer foster homes while they are vaccinated, treated for health problems, and trained so they'll be adoptable. The Doggie Den and other grooming shops groom rescue dogs for free, often to diagnose the extent of coat and skin ailments that may require the volunteer foster parent to take the dog to a vet.
This entire process takes years of organizing, fund raising, skill acquisition, and volunteer training. The D. of A. order sent hundreds of hard working volunteers into shock. It meant that years of dedication were cut short; and speaking of cut short, we cannot help but think of the thousands of animals currently dying of starvation, disease, dehydration, or euthanization because Mass. rescue workers cannot save them. The reason for the D. of A. ban is that unethical opportunists go to states that are known for their plethora of unwanted dogs and bring the dogs back to Massachusetts to sell them. These people often neglect to provide new arrivals with medical care, nutritional support, or training. Their neglect has caused multiple problems, including the discovery of locations where large numbers of sick animals have been abandonned. It falls to the Commonwealth to euthanize these poor creatures.
Within Massachusetts, there are comparatively few adoptable animals to be rescued. In contrast, in some areas of the South there are thousands. To save lives, dog rescue organizations must be able to bring animals in from out-of-state. The only organizations that are currently permitted to do so are established shelters that have facilities that the Mass. D. of A. can inspect, rather than volunteers with adoptable dogs in foster care. Ironically many shelters are less stringent than volunteer rescue orgs. in checking out potential new owners. Rescue orgs. often do home visits, which shelters seldom do. Some state-approved shelters also euthanize dogs that have not been adopted, while rescue volunteers foster, vaccinate, heal, and train dogs until the dogs become adoptable.
Many rescue organizations like Save A Dog are now scurrying around to raise enough money to buy an inspectable facility where new arrivals can be held for adoption. Of course, this is a major undertaking, and some groups will not succeed. If you can help, please do! Rescue organizations need supplies, skills and money. Go to saveadog.org; or any one of a number of breed rescue sites like pugrescuenetwork.org; greyhound.org; and ygrr.oprg (Golden Retrievers). Also check out Especially for Pets in Westboro; The Buddy Dog Humane Society in Sudbury; or the Bay Path Humane Society in Hopkinton.