On a recent afternoon, Snoopy the Chihuahua and nine of his friends arrived at the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, MA. They had taken the red eye from L.A., sent by Kinder4Rescue, a nonprofit that saves dogs that would have been euthanized in shelters. The Northeast Animal Shelter is their new temporary home.
"We started small....trips once a month or something like that, of 4 or 5 dogs here or there, but...our program has grown hugely since then," said Northeast Animal Shelter director Laurie McCannon. "I would say almost two thirds of our dogs are from out of state," she added.
The Northeast Animal Shelter is a no-kill shelter. In 2013, it accepted more than 2,600 pets from across the Eastern Seaboard, the West Coast and Puerto Rico--cats and dogs that might have otherwise been euthanized due to overpopulation at shelters.
Last year, 7.6 million animals entered shelters. 3 million were euthanized. But that's down from 15 million killed in 1970. There are no federal laws regulating the state-to-state transport of animals for adoption and that has some animal welfare advocates worrying about pet trafficking and the spread of diseases. Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, Chair of the Animal Welfare Committee for the American Veterinary Medical Association and Vice President of animal welfare for the Animal Rescue League of Boston, says guidelines should be developed by veterinarians to ensure the welfare of transported animals.
"There are people who would take advantage of people's desire for a puppy and so there are some organizations that are simply bringing up truck loads of puppies because they can be sold - even a mutt - can be sold for $400, $500, $600 hundred dollars," said Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore.
Laurie McCannon says the Northeast Animal Shelter only takes animals from a handful of known nonprofits.
"There's a way to do it right, it's not just randomly going to find a random rescue group and say let me just take on these dogs. You know, we build a relationship with particular rescue groups in particular states so that we know what their situation is," said McCannon.
The next shipment of dogs arrive in the next few days, and McCannon says there are already families interested in adopting them.