The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on June 14th, 2021, that they would prohibit the entry of dogs in 113 countries beginning July 14th. The prohibition would last for a year and is subject to periodic review. Some of the countries on the list include China, Peru, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Colombia, Indonesia, and Kenya.
Growing concern about the importation of dogs over the past year without proper documentation and even fraudulent certification of rabies vaccination prompted the CDC to impose the ban. This measure was meant to protect the public’s health and prevent the reintroduction of the canine rabies virus variant that has been eradicated in the US since 2007.
Details Of The Prohibition
Dr. Emily Pieracci, a Veterinary Medical Officer at the CDC told the press that there was a reported surge in pet adoptions and importations in 2020, during the pandemic with falsified rabies certificates rising by 50%.
A lot of people were more inclined to care for a pet giving rise to what she termed as “pandemic puppies.” She added that there might be a correlation between the empty shelters and the increased demand for imported puppies.
The prohibition covers all dogs, as well as puppies, emotional support dogs, service dogs, and returning dogs that traveled to high-risk areas in the past 6 months. No permits are given upon arrival and dogs with proper documentation would be returned to the country of departure at the expense of the importer.
Some exceptions could be made, as long as a written request for approval for a CDC Dog Import Permit was emailed to their office 6 weeks prior to the dog’s entry. US citizens returning to the country with their dogs from the banned countries could apply for this permit.
The Fight To Control Rabies
Rabies remains one of the most transmissible viruses between people and animals, resulting in 59,000 deaths each year around the world. A person who is bitten by a dog that is starting to show symptoms would be often at risk of death. The CDC noted that there was a decrease in dog vaccinations in the past year around the world due to the Covid-19 crisis. Countries like Haiti and Peru reported a rise in cases due to cutbacks.
The CDC estimates that around 1.06 million dogs are imported into the United States every year and around 100,000 of these would be affected by the prohibition. Several animal experts welcome the decision but others expressed concern that it would penalize responsible pet owners who want to adopt rescued dogs from overseas.
Meredith Ayan, Executive Director of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) International, said ” It will cause a large number of healthy animals living abroad to be surrendered and potentially euthanized if they can’t travel to the US to their adoptive owners”.
She added that the US already has strict quarantine and rabies vaccination program in place that proves highly effective for many years. Further enforcement is what they encourage the CDC to keep doing.