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Imported rescue dogs: lack of research impedes evidence-based advice to ensure the welfare of individual dogs
  1. Louise A. Buckley
  1. Deanery of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. email: louise.buckley{at}ed.ac.uk

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If you are a veterinary professional working in general practice in the UK, you cannot have failed to notice the increase in the number of dogs originating from overseas being registered at clinics. Love it or hate it, the topic of importation of overseas rescue dogs to the UK is a hot topic that is attracting vibrant and heated debate.

The number of dogs imported to the UK is growing rapidly. Under the EU Balai Directive, commercial imports of dogs from Romania – the most common country of origin for imported rescue dogs1 – alone increased from 3616 in 2014 to 19,487 in 2019.2 While these figures do not only include rescue dogs, and may underestimate the true number of rescue dogs imported due to illegal imports,1 they do give a broad indication that adopting an overseas dog is an increasingly popular choice for would-be dog owners. Thus, veterinary professionals on the frontline will increasingly encounter rescue dogs imported from overseas and be asked by their clients to provide advice and guidance across a range of health and welfare topics.

Translocation and importation of rescue dogs is not a phenomenon unique to the UK, with many countries around the world moving rescue dogs across countries or states from areas of low to high demand.3 However, the translocation of rescue dogs has raised concerns about the health risks this poses for native animals and people,3-8 with poor owner awareness of travel-related diseases.9 This has led to expert discussion10 and position statement development,11 which has helped provide veterinary professionals with improved knowledge of the potential healthcare risks associated with importing dogs.

However, very little is known about the frequency with which imported rescue dogs, either as a whole or at the export country level, …

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