Transfer and transport of unwanted animals to rescues out of state is a misunderstood process on many levels. One of the most frequently aired complaints is that those groups don’t help enough with the cost. Some of the destination agencies in our network are large shelters with veterinarians on staff. They will receive transports who have had only the minimal vetting required to cross state lines, which is a rabies vaccine and health certificate. The dogs are spayed and neutered on arrival, as well as receive any necessary vaccines, flea treatment, or deworming.
Other destination agencies are individuals or groups like us who are not funded, who have no major backing, but who know the adoption market is good in their area and want to help as many Southern dogs as possible. While those groups do struggle to help us with expenses, and while sending dogs to rescue is an entirely revenue-negative enterprise for a source agency like Tazewell ARC, we don’t believe the burden should fall on the receiving groups to finance the rescue of our county’s animals. It’s also been suggested to us that we charge those groups a “fee” for each animal. How ludicrous! Think of it this way: would you charge firefighters a toll for coming up your driveway when your house is burning to the ground?
Another frequent question pertains to the relative ease of getting small dogs and puppies into rescue, compared with the significant difficulty of securing placement for large adult dogs. First, in metropolitan areas, you have a much larger percentage of apartment dwellers than suburbanites with a fenced yard. Rescues in those areas find a much greater demand for smaller dogs and can get them adopted relatively quickly, while large dogs move much more slowly and tie up precious kennel space. A rescue could take ten large dogs in June, and come September, be unable to take any more from us because those dogs are still in their kennels or foster homes. Yet if they took eight small dogs and two large dogs in June, by September, they’re available to take ten more.
An additional factor is Dog Law in some of the northern states. The code of Virginia states: “’Adequate space’ means sufficient space to allow each animal to: (i) easily stand, sit, lie, turn about, and make all other normal body movements in a comfortable, normal position for the animal; and (ii) interact safely with other animals in the enclosure.” But in Pennsylvania, the language is much more specific. There are measurement protocols for each animal relative to the size of the kennel or crate it is housed in. For one destination agency, we have to measure each dog from the nose to the base of its tail. One of the main cutoff points is twenty-four inches. That rescue has two to three times as many kennels appropriate to house tiny dogs as they do larger dogs. So they might be able to take a dozen twenty-four inch dogs and six twenty-seven inch dogs. And they might not have legal kennel space for any dogs over thirty inches at all. Consider this diagram:
With PA dog law, it has become a matter of actual square footage verses the adoptability of any particular size or breed.