This past Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement that it will begin prohibiting dogs from over 113 different countries from crossing the United States border due to the concerns of a potential increase in rabies infections in the country.
The new ruling will go into effect starting on July 14th, stated the CDC. In another statement, the agency commented that it will be temporarily stopping the incoming travel of dogs into the country that are from “countries classified by CDC as high risk for dog rabies,” and “countries that are NOT at high risk if the dogs have been in high-risk countries during the previous 6 months.”
The CDC has issued estimates that “6% of all dogs imported into the Unites States arrive from countries at high risk for dog rabies. Inadequately vaccinated dogs are not protected against rabies and are a public health threat.” The list of banned countries includes some prominent ones such as India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, China, and Russia.
The statement continued on to say that rabies is an extremely fatal disease in both animals AND humans, “and the importation of even one rabid dog could result in transmission to humans, pets, and wildlife.” The CDC also made not that dogs from the outlined countries that have been marked as “high-risk” can apply for permission to receive the agency’s advance written approval in the form of a “CDC Dog Import Permit,” but they will not allow any appeals to denied applicants.
“We’re doing this to make sure that we protect the health and safety of dogs that are imported into the United States, as well as protect the public’s health,” Dr. Emily Pieracci of the CDC stated to NPR.
Pieracci also stated that along with a spike in dog adoptions that came due to the stay-at-home order from the coronavirus pandemic, there were farm more cases where the animals ended up in the United States with fraudulent or falsified rabies documents.
“During 2020, the CDC discovered more than 450 dogs arriving in the U.S. with falsified or fraudulent rabies certificates, a 52% increase compared with the previous two years, she says,” reported NPR.
“Early on in the pandemic, the shelters were reporting record-low numbers because everybody was adopting pandemic puppies. And so there is a possibility that there may be a correlation between empty shelters here driving an increased demand to purchase puppies overseas,” she continued.
She went on to spotlight that the newly created demand for puppies might have spurned breeders to find a way to skirt the system, especially in areas that were dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and abandoning their responsibilities of staying on top of their vaccination efforts to help prevent rabies.
“Given the impact that COVID has had on vaccination programs around the world, we’re not sure what the rabies landscape is going to look like in the future. But we are definitely concerned that there could be an increased risk of importing a rabid dog,” she concluded.