From the 14th of July, America will be banning dogs from entering the US from over 100 other countries, according to an announcement given last Monday. The ban will last for a year and is hoped to reduce the risk of a rabies epidemic.
The canine rabies variant had been eliminated in 2007 but, sadly, there has been a reintroduction of the virus which is deadly to dogs and humans alike. As such, the CDC has taken measures to stop any potentially infected pups from entering the US, from countries which have a high risk of the canine rabies virus.
While many other animals in the US have rabies, dogs are the most likely to be in contact with humans and the virus is highly transmissible. Globally, dogs are also the most likely to have rabies and, in these countries, dogs are responsible for up to 99% of rabies cases. However, in America, bat bites are the most common cause of rabies cases.
Rabies symptoms can vary, but once the signs are available – including violent movements, nausea, vomiting and so on – the case usually results in death. As such, the US is taking steps to reduce the risk of infected dogs coming into the country, in order to stem a potential epidemic.
In the US, over 1 million dogs are brought into the country each year. Of these, roughly 100,000 are from the countries considered to be high risk. Before the ban, there were still rules in place regarding the migration of dogs, which included puppies being at least 4 months old, in order for their rabies vaccine to take hold and prevent infection.
Over the past few years, however, many dogs have been stopped at the border as owners were overstating their age, in order to pass border checks. As such, the number of dogs who have been denied entry to the US has risen over 52% when compared to the previous two years.
However, because of the reduced flight schedules over the last year, as a result of the current pandemic, these dogs also took longer to be returned home. This put the dogs at greater risk of illness, even if they didn’t have rabies and led to more deaths.
“This is a deadly virus,” said Dr Douglas Kratt, the president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “I think that is a great concern, not just for rabies but for any number of diseases, to protect the health and welfare of the animals.”
Countries banned from importing dogs into the US include: Dominican Republic, Cuba, Colombia, China, Russia, Ukraine, India and the Philippines. While the majority of the countries include areas where rabies is of high risk, including Africa and Asia. Dogs from Western Europe do not seem to be affected by the change in rules.
However, there are some exceptions to the rules, as the CDC has the authority to issue advance written approval to bring a dog from a high risk country. Exceptions include service dogs, puppies which are over 6 months old, have a microchip, a titer test and a valid rabies inoculation certificate.
If an individual believes they meet these requirements then they may request advanced written permission. They will need to send images of all of the above (with a picture of the dog’s teeth to help validate their age) to [email protected] at least 30 business days (6 weeks) before they intend to enter the United States.