Demand for pet dogs far exceeds supply, and the imbalance is expected to worsen as young adults view dog ownership as a normal stage of life (before children), dog breeders face increasing regulation, and the US crackdown on illegal dog imports.
Why it matters: Rabies and other diseases that can spread from dogs to humans are popping up in places where they were all but wiped out as a result of unscrupulous imports from countries with looser hygiene laws and health oversight.
Driving the news: On June 14, the CDC issued a temporary suspension of the Dogs imported from more than 100 countries at high risk of rabies including Egypt, India, China, Russia and Ukraine.
- At the same time, the Healthy Dog Importation Act – a bipartisan bill recently tabled in the House and Senate – requires every dog entering the United States to produce a health certificate with proof of vaccination from a properly licensed veterinarian.
According to the numbers: While the US imports more than 1 million dogs a year, the annual demand for dogs – imported or not – is 8 million.
- The American Pet Products Association released its biennial pet owner survey in June, which shows that “pet ownership has increased from an estimated 67% of US households that own a pet to an estimated 70% compared to the previous survey.” .
- Millennials were the largest cohort of pet owners at 32%, followed by Boomers at 27% and Gen X at 24%.
What you say: “People are shocked to hear how many dogs have been imported into the US,” Sheila Goffe, vice president of government relations for the American Kennel Club, told Axios.
- “Some go to pet stores, some go to animal shelters, and many are sold online.”
- Goffe says the USDA and US Border Patrol are ill-equipped to monitor batches of dogs arriving in the US in groups of up to 40 or 50 with fake health certificates that have been photocopied.
Context: The number of dogs going to shelters and being euthanized has increased over the past 50 years thanks to the success of neutering and neutering programs and the increase in “responsible dog ownership,” in which people commit to keeping a dog for a lifetime. dropped sharply.
- “There just aren’t enough dogs in shelters,” said Patti Strand, president and founder of the National Animal Interest Alliance, which has been breeding Dalmatians for 52 years.
- While there are seedy “puppy mills” out there, most local breeders are very ethical, but according to Goffe and Strand, state and local laws restrict the conditions for breeding dogs.
- The Dog Free Path is one of many programs that people use to move dogs from states where shelters are full or overcrowded (such as Texas and Alabama) to states where there are not enough adoptable dogs (such as New Jersey and Minnesota ).
Goffe and Strand say the idea that shelters are overcrowded or that getting a dog from a breeder is wrong is out of date.
- Sick or dangerous dogs are the most commonly euthanized these days – and if you are “rescuing” a dog from a shelter, the animal may simply be a foreign import brought into the US to meet demand.
What’s next: The shortage of available dogs will worsen – as will the shortage of vets and vet technicians, predicts Mark Cushing, director of the consulting firm Animal Policy Group and author of the 2020 book “Pet Nation”.
- Cushing says the psychological benefits of owning pets are priceless, as so many people discovered during the pandemic. “Pets are not a fad, so we are still in the early stages – and this will stun some people – this surge in continued demand for pets,” he tells Axios.
- “People with one dog get a second dog. People with one cat get a second or they get a different species. “