Wait… we’re banning dogs coming into the country?

A strange notification came out from the CDC this week and for once it wasn’t related to the pandemic. Or at least not directly related to it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a ban on the importation of dogs from 113 countries. This order is related to disease control, but it’s not COVID. There has been a significant spike in cases of rabies in dogs and the intent of the order is to prevent a new surge in rabies cases in the United States. But this news is going to leave a lot of dogs hoping for a new home out in the cold. (The Hill)

Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a new year-long ban on importing dogs from over 100 countries after a nationwide spike in rabies.

The agency announced on Monday that due to the dramatic increase in pet adoption brought on by the pandemic as well as social restrictions and stay-at-home mandates, some dogs came into the country from overseas with fraudulent or inaccurate rabies certificates.

The rule goes into effect on July 14, 2021.

There’s a part of me that feels a bit awkward being totally in favor of travel bans for humans to try to stem the growth of the pandemic but being opposed to travel bans for dogs. (But it’s a really small part.) And yet I find it troubling. I completely understand the need to prevent the spread of rabies and we have a lot of measures in place to keep it under control. But if you can put people into a two-week quarantine upon arrival in the country and arrange covid testing for them, couldn’t you also quarantine incoming dogs and test them for rabies?

Even if we can’t manage that for some reason, surely there have to be exceptions to this rule. We are told that you can obtain an exemption by applying for and receiving a CDC Dog Import Permit, but they don’t seem to give too many of those out. Other dogs shouldn’t require a permit, however.

Taking a look at the updated list of the 113 countries included in the doggie travel ban, I notice that both Iraq and Afghanistan are on there, as is Syria. Surely this ban can’t apply to war dogs returning from duty with their trainers, right? Any dogs working for the military have all of the vaccinations known to veterinary medicine and they travel with the troops so it’s not as if they require extra transportation. If the military is told to start leaving their dogs behind, there really needs to be some sort of revolt.

For the non-war dogs, if you are fortunate enough to obtain a CDC Dog Import Permit, you can’t just fly the dog into the airport nearest your home and go pick it up. The dog will need to be flown to a live animal care facility in New York City at the John F. Kennedy International Airport. There, the dog will have to remain in quarantine until it’s cleared medically, at which point you can have it transported to its final destination. That’s going to drive up the cost considerably.

The CDC spokesperson quoted in the linked article blames part of the uptick in dogs flying to America on the fact that so many people went out to adopt “pandemic puppies” during the lockdown, leaving many shelters nearly empty. I can verify that this was the case in our area as we had to wait several months before finding our current pup. (Tragically, far too many people have been deciding that they don’t have time for their dogs now that their jobs are reopening and they are dumping them back into the shelter. I don’t envy you the negative karma you are building up.)

This seems like a bit of an extreme reaction by the CDC and I hope they will reconsider the decision. I’m not sure how many dogs this will apply to on average, but homeless dogs have it hard enough as it is. Of course, it’s entirely possible that I only feel this way because I tend to like dogs (and cats) more than people to begin with.

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