UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Implications of international dog rescue operations on Canadian sheltering practices von Rentzell, Kai


The international movement of dogs has garnered considerable attention in recent years due to its rapid growth in popularity and occurrence on a global scale. Estimates suggests over 1 million dogs were imported into the United States (US) and over 300,000 dogs to the United Kingdom each year before 2021. Although the official number of dogs arriving at Canada is unknown, Canadian local professionals reported that at least 6,000 dogs were imported in 2013. Zoonotic disease risks and concerns associated with illegal dog import activities, has led US and Canada placing a temporary suspension on all commercial importation of dogs arriving from non-rabies free countries. The importation of dogs has also been associated with concerns for the dog’s behaviour given lack of knowledge on the animal’s backgrounds. To understand the potential implications of commercial dog importation on the owners, the first objective of my thesis was to investigate the effect of dog’s source on the owner-dog relationship. Two independent surveys were sent to dog owners in British Columbia to examine owner-reported assessments of their Canadian vs non-Canadian sourced dogs. I found no evidence of owner-reported poorer welfare for non-Canadian dogs. The second objective of my thesis was to understand why Canadian dog rescue organizations engaged in international dog rescue, and to explore common challenges faced in their line of work. To explore the perspectives of members from this community, I interviewed representatives of Canadian-based international dog rescue organizations. The views of my participants indicated that they were driven by a strong desire to help, but faced logistical and societal barriers that made the development of local rescue partnerships more challenging. Rescue members voiced concerns regarding stigma associated with their work, and expressed a lack of support from other stakeholders. I conclude that imported rescue dogs can be successfully adopted into homes in Canada, but more efforts can be made to support individual rescue organizations that engage in dog import.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International