NAIA Applauds USDA Rule Protecting Pets and People!

NAIA Applauds USDA Rule Protecting Pets and People!

USDA Finalizes Sensible Regulations to Prevent the Importation of Sick and Dangerous Dogs for Resale

By: Patti Strand  Date: 08/18/2014 Category: | Animal Welfare |

The new USDA rule published in today’s Federal Register represents a giant step forward in protecting American citizens, pets and other animals from diseases and parasites introduced by foreign dogs. The new rule ensures that dogs introduced into the US for resale are vaccinated and in good health, and requires them to be over six months of age. The rule does not apply to puppies that are imported for research, veterinary medical treatment, or for an importer’s personal retention. 

On its face this rule may not seem significant or even relevant to many US dog owners, but it is vitally important. It provides crucial safeguards against the introduction of dogs carrying infectious and zoonotic diseases and parasites, which hurt consumers who buy or adopt them and can spread to other animals and people.

Americans love helping homeless animals, but importing dogs from parts that of the world rife with disease and parasites is both irresponsible and dangerous.

Globalization is a fact of modern life and in the international pet marketplace the USA has become a leading destination for the distribution of dogs from foreign countries and offshore territories The World Health Organization estimates the size of the global stray dog population at 200 million.  New US rescues spring up continually to save them and bring them to the US. There are now rescue groups dedicated to reuniting service men to dogs they bonded with in war zones (often where rabies is endemic)importing Afghani strays to cure PTSDbringing street dogs from Sochi to the US, and even groups rounding up Puerto Rican street dogs for US Adoptathons where cash prizes are awarded to the groups that gather up the most dogs.

Until the finalization of these regulations and recent clarifications on other shipping requirements, pet importation was handled under laws passed in the 1950’s that were focused on pets traveling with their owners. Lawmakers did not anticipate the globalization of the pet industry and could not have imagined the mass movement of dogs into the US for adoption and sale in the underground pet industry.

Without these new regulations, the US would become the dumping ground for the world’s stray dogs. In 2006, the CDC estimated that 297,000 were imported into the US, about 199,000 of them smuggled across the Mexican border.  Until the finalization of this regulation, and the tightening of confinement agreements there was little in place to stop dogs from entering.   

In 2007 the CDC declared that canine strain rabies had been eradicated in the US but following that announcement, the agency reported on three cases of canine strain rabies in dogs adopted from locales where dog-to-dog rabies is still endemic.  Of the 55,000 annual deaths from rabies worldwide, about 98% are the result of dog bites and canine strain rabies.

NAIA is gratified that these regulations have been finalized. This landmark regulatory change took more than a decade of hard work to accomplish, from identifying and researching the issue, to educating and alerting lawmakers, agency officials and the public about the nature and scope of the problem, to adding the appropriate language to the 2008 Farm Bill, resulting in the publication of these regulations. This issue has been NAIA's continuous focus for more than 13 years. Of all the challenges NAIA has tackled, we regard this as our most important achievement. We wish to thank the American Kennel Club for their contribution to this success. Without their partnership in 2008 working on the Farm Bill, this result might not have occurred.

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