One of the many arguments put forward against the adoption of dogs from foreign lands is that it delays or takes away the chance of a home grown unwanted dog finding a home quickly. But this argument is a bit of a fallacy as it is more to do with our fickle and selfish approach to choosing a dog that results in at least 40,000 dogs remaining on the shelves at UK rescues centres each year. Unfortunately there are too few people looking to acquire or adopt for the right reasons i.e. providing a new life for a disadvantaged dog regardless of its aesthetic appeal, pedigree or the trend of the moment. Until we change our adoption preferences charities will never be able to easily find homes for every dog in their care.
One large UK dog charity admits they receive 13,000 applications annually but never have enough numbers of the desired types to meet this demand because most applicants are holding out for a particular breed or type. It is virtually impossible to persuade these potential adopters to ignore their preferred choice in favour of a nondescript stray that doesn’t appeal. Foreign strays have the edge over those that are overlooked because human nature being what it is we cannot resist a sad story and foreign rescues are perceived to be the saddest of all. But if you look at the figures involved in reality there should be more than enough potential owners to keep both sides of the foreign import argument happy.
Rescue sector only provides a small percentage of demand
The UK dog rescue sector only fulfils a small percentage of the annual demand for dogs and puppies and foreign rescues even less. I am no mathematician but looking at the numbers logically, the UK has an estimated dog population of 9 million and if you accept that the average lifespan of a dog is probably 11 years it means the UK requires a minimum of 820,000 puppies and dogs just to replenish those that die of old age. It has been variously estimated that 130,000 dogs are handed into UK animal charities as unwanted annually and if you accept their published success rates, 90,000 (70%) are probably rehomed. This leaves up to 40,000 less desirable ones remaining.
Even if 100% of UK unwanted dogs and thousands more foreign rescues were found homes each year they would still only satisfy a fraction of the demand. Therefore there should be room in the market to satisfy everyone in the rescue industry but it requires all dog lovers to play their part by not viewing dogs as accessories and lowering their exacting standards in choosing a dog.
The situation is similar in other countries such as the USA and Canada where the rescue market only provides a fraction of the demand but there is also opposition to foreign imports.
It is commercially bred dog and puppy imports that are causing the most problems not rescue dogs and this is the area where curtailment could be considered which would increase demand for more dogs from the rescue sector. Better still the ideal answer is to have a more responsible attitude to dog ownership and avoid dogs going into care in the first place.