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Risk of international pet adoptions

International pet adoption may have added risks. If you are thinking about adopting a pet from another country, check out this information.

Risk of international pet adoptions

Q:We read about a group that rescues dogs from the Asian dog meat market, and we’re thinking about adopting. We’re conflicted, though, because there are so many homeless dogs in the US. What’s your opinion?

A:Your desire to help these unfortunate dogs is commendable. If you choose to adopt a dog from Asia, you’ll face several challenges.

The rescued dogs are seldom screened for medical and behavioral problems. If a problem surfaces after the dog moves into your home, you can’t simply return the dog to its home country.

Generally, blood work and fecal testing aren’t done because the rescue groups have limited funds. If the dog arrives in this country with an undiagnosed medical problem, your veterinarian may not recognize it if it’s a disease that occurs in Asia but not here. You also run the risk of introducing new diseases to your area. Some of these diseases are zoonotic, which means they can sicken humans, too.

Often the documentation that accompanies a dog is fraudulent. In one study of 287,000 imported dogs, 25 percent lacked the required proof of rabies vaccination. Moreover, international pet adoptions are not regulated by the US government, and our ports of entry have limited resources to inspect dog shipments.

To protect your family and increase your satisfaction with the dog you adopt, I suggest you visit a local shelter or rescue organization and get to know the dog first.

You can still advocate for the dogs that are victims of the Asian meat markets through social media and financial contributions to the organizations that rescue them.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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