Discussion: Why do so many northern animal rescues transport from the south?

Between kitten season (which never seems to end) and irresponsible dog owners, shelters are overwhelmed across the United States. While it may be a good idea (or not), I’m seeing a lot of dogs and cats in the southern part of the county being transported to rescues ‘up north.’

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The sheer number of animals taken from one part of the county to another has raised concerns, especially in areas where rescues opt to leave the animals in their local shelters and transport from hundreds of miles away.

I put out the thought of why this is happening in a Facebook post but I still have concerns. Others are as concerned as I am. Below I’ll give three examples of what MIGHT be going on in the world of long-distance animal transport.

The discussion topic today is why do so many northern rescues transport from the south?

Northern shelters too difficult to work with and have fewer animals to choose from

A few have commented that northern shelters are too difficult to work with. I take it this means there’s a lot of red tape and paperwork involved in saving a shelter cat or dog. Or the variety (especially with dogs) is poor. Or the price charged by the shelter is too high.

There are special friendships between southerner’s who advocate for dogs or cats and rescues from the north

For example, a shelter advocate from the south is very good friends with someone from the north who operates or volunteers for a rescue. They have a close friendship and agree to transport dogs and cats from the south to the north and find them a good forever home.

Below is the closest I’ve come to a real answer from a cat rescuer who sends cats to a northern rescue.

“Northern states have very strict animal laws. They require records to be kept on all animals, they keep them indoors and they are all chipped. The north doesn’t have a brutal kitten season as we do… the cold weather and the laws there keep it controlled. They pull from kill shelters where the kill rate is extremely high.”

The conspiracy theory

This one is particularly disturbing. Dogs and cats in the south are being transported to the north not for them to be adopted but to be sold to animal labs for testing. Labs supply colleges for dissection.

I have a few friends who firmly believe this. One even says there are photographs of a van sitting in a chosen location with the name of a lab on the side of the van.

Many shelters also have a ‘dirty little secret’ and sell euthanized animals to these labs. It’s hard to track this down with a paper trail but I’ve had reliable people tell me this does happen.

Does any of this make sense?

Does any of this make sense to you? The dogs and cats being transported, supposedly to a forever home may not be going to kill shelters. The question I ask is does anyone know whether rescues who go down south to save animals are doing so at the cost of life at their local shelters.

These rescues are taking animals from another part of the country which means one less spot per animal that could have been filled from their local shelter. Are animals being killed at northern shelters because the rescues are pulling more from far away meaning they don’t have a spot for a local dog or cat?

There may be more red tape involved with a northern shelter. Consider the time and cost of transport and it makes even less sense to move an animal from ‘southern point A’ to ‘northern point B.’

I’m not picking on just north and south. There are plenty of transports that go west to east and east to west. I’m not against transport and yes, saving a life is saving a life. I’ve had several who do animal advocacy for their local shelter only to learn a local rescue is passing over those animals in favor of ones five states away (or more).

It’s not simply a matter of more irresponsible pet owners in the south because I’ve seen just as many cases of animal neglect and animal cruelty taking place in the northern states.

If you have information you wish to remain anonymous in giving, please leave a comment under a fake name or ‘anonymous’ in the moderated comment section. I’ll see they’re approved while protecting your identity.

PLEASE share this article with those you know who are involved in long-distance rescue/transport. There are a lot of people who want the truth and they want answers.

Photo credit: The Greenville Sun.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

9 thoughts on “Discussion: Why do so many northern animal rescues transport from the south?”

  1. Elisa our county shelter has close relationships with the rescues who pull from us. We get cat updates on who has been adopted. These rescues are 501 and had to present their adoption application process and program, vet references, and shelter reference. As I said before many of their adoption fees are lower then ours. I don’t know anywhere were people would pay much more then $150 for a cat that’s not papered even spayed/ neutered combo tested, vacs, dewormed, flea product & micro chipped. Which is our welness protocol. So I would like to know who and were rescues are adopting out cats and kittens for more then $150

  2. When I asked this question to a rescue we work with I was told this.
    (They run an actual facility)
    We get the kitties already Fully Vetted. The adoption fees from those adoptions is what makes it possible to keep the lights on and doing what we Can to save lives.
    The local Rescues we have to fully vet, because of the higher prices to Vet in The area, our adoption price doesn’t even cover the cost.
    And we have to drive 2 hrs for ESN when we can get fully vetted , combo tested, UTD, Microchipped 14 week old kittens on transport.
    So while we do rescue locally as well. Without Southern kitty adoptions, keeping our Facility open would not be possible.
    And so many lives would be lost both locally and out of state because of it.

  3. Why? In most cases a very simple answer. The South is much more inundated with kittens and puppies that are easily sellable up North for very high prices. If you think many of these “rescues” are altruistic in their motives,you are sadly mistaken. A free kitten or puppy they can sell for hundreds of dollars is their motive for “saving”!

    1. Elisa Black-Taylor

      So I guess a major question is how much does a dog or cat sell for in the north. I have no clue. Does anyone have any numbers? Because I’ve heard adoption prices up north may be lower than in the south.

  4. Thank you for writing this article. This has been an issue for quite sometime. Here on Long Island we have an a lot of rescues who pull from down south when our local shelters are full of dogs and cats whom are being euthanized on a daily basis. These are healthy good tempered animals being killed while so many rescues are pulling from out of state as well as out of the country! As far as my opinion goes on this subject it varies depending on the rescue. There are a handful of them who I truly believe do this to make a profit for themselves. They have truckloads of puppies shipped up and right to a Petco or some kind of pet supply store they go to to be adopted out. Most of these rescues do not have the correct paperwork needed to ship these puppies up and do not get them vetted and keep them quarantined as they are supposed before they are adopted out. Some are not even an approved 501 non profit but that also falls on the negligence of the shelters down south as some that I have looked into do not even check the paperwork of rescues that are pulling from them. Most don’t do home visits but claim they do reference and veterinary checks on the people who are looking to adopt. My main issue is with the rescues that only pull from down south and don’t help any of our local dogs. I’ve personally reached out to many rescues to help with our local shelter dogs and have gotten so many excuses, they are full, low on funds, no fosters available etc yet the next day I see new animals posted on their sites that have just arrived or are being transported up soon. I’ve also been told they pull from down south because we have a lot of “ Unadoptable dogs” or “all pit bulls” in our shelters and they just don’t get adopted quick enough. While we do have a lot of pits which most of them are amazing dogs with the sweetest temperaments, there are also a lot of different breeds as well in our shelters. To me it’s always been quality over quantity I’d rather save a few local animals and take the time to do right by them and get them in an amazing home then quickly scatter to get a bunch of puppies adopted and collect an outrageous adoption fee!!What most don’t realize is these puppies that are coming up some may end up having issues down the line as they grow and hit maturity. Then what happens when the owners want to return the dog? Very few rescues take back their dogs, some end up in boarding, some reputable rescues pick up the slack and take them in others unfortunately are euthanized quietly of course because then that would ruin their reputation. I’ve also had many arguments due to the fact these rescues say they are still saving a life and it shouldn’t matter where the animal comes from. While I’m all for saving the animals it comes down to the fact that for what they just saved from down south just as many of our local animals were euthanized which would not have happened if a rescue stepped up to save them instead of pulling from out of state. Our city shelters are euthanizing at a very high rate and while I know they euthanize in high volumes as well down south I feel as every state should focus on their own issues first and once that’s taken care of move in to help other states. I would also like to say my issue with all of this is the rescues that only pull from down south or will take an easy owner surrender locally. I do know of many rescues who pull from down south but will also help out our local shelters as well. With cats I have no answer as to why they take from down south as we have cats and kittens everywhere! You can basically walk outside your house and find a cat or kitten so along with the dogs there is no reason to take cats from out of state either. I could go on and on but I hope this clarifies some information you were looking for. If anyone has any further questions they can feel free to reach out to me. Thank you again for writing this I hope this article will start to open peoples eyes and rescues and others here in NY will realize the importance of helping our local animals first!

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