Photo caption:  We want to help defenseless animals and children, 
but sometimes our best intentions can do harm to those we want to help.


Should Chernobyl dogs get a new chance at life in America?

I love Smithsonian Magazine, and I saw an interesting article on dogs  this morning.  It is here!

I think the healing of the Chernobyl area has been hopeful and fascinating, and they have determined that feral dogs from the area are safe to be transported to America for adoption.  That is, they are safe from a radioactive contamination perspective.  We read that the dogs will be quarantined first, as if that is reassuring.  It is not.  It helps the dogs to survive the transport, by selecting out dogs that are already ill, but it will not prevent illnesses upon arrival to the US, from pathogens they are already infected with, and will bring with them from Russia.

In other words, NO.  Chernobyl dogs should not be brought to the US in search of homes, for their own health, and for the health and wellbeing of dogs already living in the US.


Read my comment in response the the Smithsonian article, below.

The idea of transporting these dogs across the world to possibly be adopted is well intentioned, but could have dire results for both the Russian dogs, and dogs in the US. This is my opinion as a professional animal manager and trainer, with experience overseeing the health and welfare of animals for numerous institutions – like the Smithsonian! Here is why I feel this way:

1) There are plenty of US dogs needing homes. Any imported dogs will compete for those homes.

2) These dogs will endure significant stress at being shipped. Then they have to adapt to quarantine here. Then another big change to go to a shelter. Then another to go into a new home. It is said that a person or animal is 3 times likelier to get ill or die, than its cohorts, after a significant stress FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. What will 4 huge stresses within one year do for those dogs?

3) What new pathogens will they import that may endanger American dogs that are not adapted to germs specific to that part of the world? (contact with Europeans killed off 90% of the Polynesian population, from just such diseases). And don’t be reassured by the idea that these animals will undergo quarantine in Russia. All beings, even when they are in vigorous good health, carry “subclinical” pathogenic viruses, bacteria and fungi. “Subclinical” means that there is no apparent disease. But the disease agents are still present. Quarantining an animal before shipment is likely to do NOTHING to prevent illness in these dogs subsequent to shipping, when they will be quarantined again, causing them further stress and further susceptibility to developing active disease from the pathogens they brought with them. Pre shipment quarantine does not protect US animals from the diseases these dogs will introduce, regardless of their apparent health.

It would be much better for the dogs to continue to live in Russia, one way or another.

However, many people are easily persuaded to invest money in the ill-advised importation of animals from other countries, even though it is so bad on so many fronts. I hope this idea will be blocked and unsupported. We want to help defenseless animals and children, but sometimes our best intentions can do harm to those we want to help.