The U.S. government has softened a rule that had banned the import of dogs from 113 countries because of concerns about fraudulent rabies vaccination certificates. The change comes less than six weeks after the ruling, which pet owners had complained was too restrictive, went into effect.
Until October 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had blocked the import of dogs, both foreign and those returning to the country after traveling abroad, from 113 countries where the risk was considered high. of rabies transmission for dogs. The ban was prompted, the federal agency said, by an increase in counterfeit health documents from international pet importers over the past 18 months.
Now, travelers flying with dogs that have received their vaccinations from a U.S.-licensed veterinarian can return to the United States from previously banned countries, as long as the animal is healthy, has a microchip, and is at least 6 months old. ‘antiquity, and its owner can provide a valid US document. issued rabies vaccination certificate.
The decision was announced over the weekend on the CDC website. The agency did not answer questions about what had stimulated the change.
In 2020 alone, as pet adoptions increased in the United States, the CDC said it intervened in more than 450 cases where dogs with fake or incomplete rabies vaccination certificates were important. In June 2021, a rabid dog was imported from Azerbaijan, prompting a public health response with agencies from nine states. For the CDC, this incident was enough.
The dog’s import “highlights the opportunity for the CDC’s temporary suspension and the risk associated with rescue dogs imported from countries at high risk of canine rabies,” CDC veterinary officer Emily Pieracci said in an email. “Dog rabies has been eliminated from the United States since 2007 and imports of dogs from countries at high risk of rabies pose a significant risk to public health.”
Dog owners leaving the country with their animals should make sure their documentation is up to date and check their cities of arrival and departure: the CDC will not accept expired rabies vaccination certificates and, in as of Dec. 1, all dogs that have passed through a country considered high risk of rabies by the CDC must re-enter the United States at one of 18 approved ports of entry, including Chicago International Airports O’Hare, John F. Kennedy of New York and San Francisco. The CDC had also initially planned to reduce these 18 approved ports to just three in early 2022, but has now revoked those plans.
The CDC’s policy change offers no relief to people, including cooperators and U.S. service members, who want to bring dogs to the United States for the first time. Many of them struggle to reconnect with the animals they adopted during service visits abroad and have complained that the rule was too restrictive. Animals adopted abroad, without U.S. vaccination documents, cannot yet enter the U.S. without special permission.
This story was originally posted on nytimes.com. Read it here.