ICAWC 2011: Jenny Vestlund and Sara TurettaPresentation Transcript
International adoptions: a responsible approach
From the sender’s point of view
When re-homing abroad makes sense
How to choose countries/partners
This presentation takes the point of view of a charity working in a developing country
International adoptions: a controversial issue among animal welfare organizations
Re-homing can be ONE among the activities that can help a TNR project to be successful but IT IS NOT the key factor.
When should you re-home abroad?
Whenever your shelter becomes overcrowded and you find it impossible to re-home locally the dogs that reach your shelter.
How to keep control on numbers
Whatever the policy and the ethics of your charity, you are bound to face this issue.
The sooner you decide, the better.
Which countries should you target?
Those countries where:
statistics show there is no problem with stray dogs
shelters have good standards and high adoption rates
euthanasia is not used to keep the phenomenon under control
certain types of dogs are not available in shelters (small sizes, puppies, etc.)
Which partner should you look for?
We cannot re-home animals directly in other countries : we need somebody who knows the culture, the environment and is well rooted in the territory (importance of networking!).
Find a group already formed and active
Find supporters that are willing to develop a charity and will seriously be looking after the adoptions
What you should look for in your partner
Given the fact that the partner will have its own specific culture, you should look for:
similar values to yours on animal welfare
well organized volunteers with clear responsibilities and good know-how
ability to handle the dogs returned from the families, in order to avoid useless euthanasia
Always sign a written agreement stating the rights and duties of each partner: even if the charities involved are small and the members are friends, you need an official framework and a professional approach.
Things can always change!
Discuss with your partner about the fee usually payed by people adopting pets from local shelters.
Make a plan on “who pays what” and split the adoption fee among the two organizations, according to the expenses incurred.
Even if we are charities, we need to make business plans like private companies in order to have sustainable activities. DON'T FEEL ASHAMED TO TALK ABOUT MONEY! You are not doing this for profit, you do it for the animals!
Which animals should you propose to your partner?
Before starting the program ask you partner to brief you about the kind of dogs who have good chances to be adopted.
Try not to be emotional in picking out the dogs.
If possible, ask the partner to visit and make his own choices.
Have a skilled person of your organization in charge of analyzing/describing the dogs: you need a professional, do not improvise!
Make sure that the animals leaving undergo a severe medical procedure (fleeing, worming, vaccinating etc.) fulfilling both the law and your partner’s requirements.
WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS
OUR PARTNER AND TOWARDS THE ANIMALS OF THE RECEIVING COUNTRY
In principle, non-commercial movements of pets between countries are governed by regulation 998/2003 and 388/2010. However, many countries apply significant exceptions.
You should read these regulations, but you should also contact your local veterinary department.
If you believe in international adoptions, never hide what you are doing.
Show your honest intentions by informing the authorities, even if you might create some enemies.
Keep files of the dogs you are sending, especially if the vet department of your country has no database.
YOU MUST BE ABLE TO DEFEND YOUR ACTIVITY BEFORE THE PUBLIC AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS CRITICIZING YOU
How do we get them travelling?
Consider 2 issues: the animal welfare and the transportation cost.
Welfare issue : which is the best way to travel for the animals? How long is the trip? How are they kept during transport? How is the temperature?
Not this way!
How much does each transport cost?
Can I cover all expenses on my own or with the support of my partner’s adoption fees?
Are the trips financially sustainable on a long term? If not, how can I fund them if my partner is not able to pay/share costs?
… and eventually, after each trip….
… ..find some time to simply enjoy the pictures of the dogs safe in their new families and take inspiration and strength for your work!
From the receiver’s point of view
Why adopt from abroad?
Before the start: plan and research
The country and the associations working in it
The adoption procedure
- Direct adoption / shelters, method of choosing families, adoption contract, traceability etc.
Import requirements (EU has common regulations)
Make valuable contacts with other organizations, the authorities and the media
Before the adoption
Before the adoption
Evaluation of dogs in the adoption program
Yourself or together with a employee of the shelter
Be realistic, you cannot save them all!
Describe the dog as honestly as you can to the adopting family to avoid unnecessary re-homing and euthanasia
Prepare the family carefully on what to expect (and not to expect)!
Before the adoption
Air / road
Choose the method causing the least amount of stress for the dogs, even if it is more expensive
After the adoption
Assign a contact person for each family and make regular follow-ups
Usually the dogs adapt very fast, however some dogs might develop behavioral problems
- Most common problems: shyness, possessive or fear related aggression and separation anxiety
You need to have a skilled person to help the families needing support
After the adoption
Although the goal should always be a 0 % re-homing rate, it is not completely realistic
The association should take care of the re-homing to ensure that the dog gets a good home
Remember that you have a responsibility towards the dogs for the rest of their lives!
Countries adopting dogs from abroad usually have a better situation regarding diseases
Rabies, parvo, distemper and tick-borne diseases
It is a huge responsibility and must be a top priority to minimize risks!
Are you sure you have the resources?
Tremendeous amount of work
You will receive a lot of judgement and criticism and encounter a lot of prejudice