The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it wants to buy 3,000 dogs from breeders in order to increase its force of canines who sniff out explosives, cash, and drugs. With thousands of homeless dogs who would make excellent candidates for the program already in animal shelters across the country, the DHS should follow the lead of New England Assistance Dog Services and many police departments and fill its ranks with dogs adopted from animal shelters and breed rescue groups instead.
We are in the midst of an animal overpopulation crisis in the U.S., and yet the DHS plans to pay breeders to produce more dogs! Only 20 percent of dogs who are selected for service programs successfully complete the training process, so this plan could actually result in another 15,000 dogs ending up homeless!
The "success rate" of service dogs adopted from animal shelters and rescue agencies is the same as that of dogs who are bred for certification jobs. Animal shelters everywhere have the type of dogs the DHS is seeking—dogs who are outgoing, alert, active, extremely people-friendly, and of certain breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and German shepherds.
If the DHS adopts homeless dogs for the program, it's a win-win situation. It would save taxpayers thousands of dollars because adoption costs at animal shelters are far lower than the prices that breeders charge for puppies. The average price that the DHS paid for the 322 untrained dogs it purchased between April 2006 and June 2007 was $4,535 per dog! Adopting dogs from animal shelters would also help curb the animal overpopulation crisis, while giving the dogs an opportunity for an exciting and fulfilling life.
Please take a few moments to contact DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and ask that the agency adopt dogs from animal shelters and breed-rescue groups rather than buy dogs from breeders.
Campaign letter writing information is available at Peta.org Action Center.