Update: Six weeks after banning the importation of dogs from 113 countries over fears of fraudulent rabies vaccination certificates, the CDC is bending a little. It will now allow dogs to return to the US from those countries as long as they are healthy, microchipped, at least six months old, and have a valid rabies vaccination certificate issued by a US-licensed veterinarian, the New York Times reports. However, any dogs traveling through countries at high-risk for dog rabies will need to return to one of 18 approved ports of entry, listed here. It remains the case that animals adopted abroad, without valid US vaccination papers, will only be permitted entry with special permission. Our original story from Oct. 30 follows:
The Unites States "was probably the most lax country to send a pet into," a director with the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association tells the New York Times. Emphasis on was. The Times reports that it just got significantly tougher to transport dogs into the US. As of Oct. 14, there are 113 countries (Brazil, China, South Africa, the UAE, and Russia among them) on a no-entry list: Dogs can't be imported from them, nor can Americans take a trip to one of those places with their dog and get that dog back home. At the heart of the change is rabies.
Dog adoptions surged during the pandemic, and the CDC says it saw an accompanying surge in faked rabies vaccination certificates from international pet importers. "The importation of even one rabid dog is dangerous because rabies is nearly always fatal in people and animals once symptoms appear," says a CDC rep. The American Veterinary Association says CDC officials told it the US rid itself of the canine rabies variant since 2007, something that took 50 years to achieve, and that it's worried about that being undone. The CDC will, however, offer a limited number of permits to dogs coming from banned countries, but the list of requirements is an onerous one.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel earlier this month reported that a bipartisan group of 57 congressmen sent the CDC a letter asked that it reconsider the ban, which it says negatively impacts US families who adopted a dog while living overseas and now want to return to the US, as well as US military members who'd like to bring the dogs they adopted on deployment home. And a director with SPCA International suggests the ban could do more harm than good from a global perspective, as banned countries will find their ability to vaccinate and neuter dogs taxed as fewer of them leave for the US. (Read more rabies stories.)