Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

The great American dog shortage

Demand for pet dogs is far outstripping supply, and the imbalance is expected to worsen as young adults consider dog ownership a normal life stage (before kids), dog breeders face increasing regulation and the U.S. cracks down on illegal dog imports.

Why it matters: Rabies and other diseases that can jump from dogs to humans are cropping up in places where they were all but eradicated, a result of unscrupulous imports from countries with looser hygiene laws and health oversight.


Driving the news: On June 14, the CDC issued a temporary suspension of theimportation of dogs from more than 100 countries deemed at high risk for rabies, including Egypt, India, China, Russia and Ukraine.

  • At the same time, the Healthy Dog Importation Act — a bipartisan bill recently introduced in the House and the Senate — would require that every dog coming to the U.S. have a health certificate with proof of vaccinations issued by a properly licensed veterinarian.

By the numbers: While the U.S. imports more than 1 million dogs a year, the annual demand for dogs — imported or not— is 8 million.

  • The American Pet Products Association released its biennial pet owners' survey in June, showing that "pet ownership has increased from an estimated 67% of U.S. households that own a pet to an estimated 70%" over the prior survey.
  • Millennials were the largest cohort of pet owners, at 32%, followed by Boomers at 27% and Gen X at 24%.

What they're saying: "People are shocked when they hear the number of dogs that have been imported to the U.S.," Sheila Goffe, vice president of government relations for the American Kennel Club, tells Axios.

  • "Some are going to pet stores, some are going to shelters, a lot are being sold online."
  • Goffe says the USDA and U.S. Border Patrol are ill-equipped to police batches of dogs that arrive in the U.S. in groups as big as 40 or 50, with fake health certificates that have been photocopied.

Context: The number of dogs going to shelters and being euthanized has plummeted over the last 50 years, thanks to the success of spay-and-neuter programs and the rise of "responsible dog ownership," in which people commit to keeping a dog for life.

  • "There just are not enough dogs entering shelters" to meet demand, says Patti Strand, president and founder of the National Animal Interest Alliance, who has bred Dalmatians for 52 years.
  • While shady "puppy mills" do exist, most domestic breeders are highly ethical but are being squeezed by state and local laws that limit conditions for breeding dogs, according to Goffe and Strand.
  • The "canine freedom trail" is one of many programs through which people transport dogs from states where shelters are full or crowded (like Texas and Alabama) to states where there aren't enough adoptable dogs (like New Jersey and Minnesota).

Goffe and Strand say notions that shelters are overcrowded or that it's wrong to get a dog from a breeder are outdated.

  • Today, it is primarily sick or dangerous dogs that are euthanized — and when you "rescue" a dog from a shelter, the animal may simply be a foreign import that was brought to the U.S. to slake demand.

What's next: The dearth of available dogs will worsen — as will shortages of veterinarians and veterinary technicians, predicts Mark Cushing, head of the consultancyAnimal Policy Group and author of the 2020 book "Pet Nation."

  • Cushing says the mental health benefits of pet ownership are inestimable, as so many people have discovered during the pandemic. "Pets aren’t a fad, so we’re still in the beginning phase — and that will stun some people — of this surge of continuing demand for pets," he tells Axios.
  • "People with one dog will get a second dog. People with one cat will get a second, or they’ll get a different species.”

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories