Shelter dogThe Greek debt crisis is obviously getting a lot of attention, and now people are trying to link it to increased importation of stray pets.

That’s a stretch. Greek dogs have been coming into the country in large numbers for years.

Over the past week, I’ve had countless emails about issues with dogs and cats being imported from Cuba, Aruba, Azerbaijan, Dubai and a few others that I can’t remember off the top of my head. Most of these have been dogs but some include cats (which is even more mid-boggling than dogs. About 50% of cats that reach animal shelters in Canada are euthanized. How can anyone think we need to import more?)

Anyway, back to Greece.

Today’s Globe & Mail has a front-page story about shelters shipping abandoned and stray Greek animals to Canada. At first glance, you see the “nice” aspect of it: a homeless animal with no future future finds a new home in Canada. But, if you think about it more, there are a lot of downsides. Most people unfortunately don’t think that far.

Dianne Aldan, 69, provides a link between KAZ and Canadians wanting to adopt. She has been helping Greek dogs find a home since 2001 through a charity out of Toronto called Tails from Greece Rescue. She has airlifted more than 350 pups. “It never ends, and especially now … with the financial situation, a lot of dogs have been abandoned,” she says. Her charity charges a $375 adoption fee, and KAZ takes care of vaccinating and sterilizing the dogs. Once they find a home, they are airlifted from Greece to Amsterdam, where they spend the night before heading to Canada.

Apart from the fact that we have lots of dogs needing homes in Canada, and that we’ve been importing nasty diseases such as leishmaniasis with Greek dogs, there’s the legal aspect to consider. If these are not personal pets being imported by their owners, this type of importation is illegal. Illegal importation of dogs (often of dodgy health status) is rampant in Canada because of lax enforcement.

Brooke Berrington and Alex Sanderson say it’s worth the wait. The Toronto couple had been looking to adopt a dog, and spied Demi on, a website that connects animal charities with potential adopters. A video of Demi at the Greek shelter showed her to be “quite calm, very cuddly, the kinds of things we were looking for,” Mr. Sanderson said.

I wonder why they didn’t just look down the road at the local shelter? There are lots of good dogs there, just not with the same wow factor as “look at my rescue dog from Greece!”

Also, assessing the choice of a pet that you’re going to hopefully live with for many years by video (probably with limited temperament testing done at the shelter) isn’t something I’d want to do.

“If you want to have a dog, please adopt one in Canada. Our shelter system is already overburdened,” Barbara Cartwright, chief executive officer of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, said. She also warns that lax regulations could lead to animal diseases being brought into the country.

A voice of reason.