Proposed Amendment to the Animal Welfare Act – Dog Importation

A Proposed Amendment to the Animal Welfare Act – Dog Importation

National Animal Interest Alliance

Portland, Oregon –-(  NAIA has long been concerned by the dangerous practice of importing dogs into the United States from countries that lack proper veterinary standards, and we have worked to raise public awareness of this issue while encouraging appropriate regulations for dealing with it.

As you can imagine, neglecting to properly vet an incoming dog greatly increases the risk of transmitting parasites and diseases to the native population (including rabies), and can lead to tragic consequences for the dogs themselves. Bypassing regulatory safeguards is a cruel and irresponsible practice.

Thankfully, outreach and education on this issue is beginning to pay off. In response to the 2007 farm bill (an act that NAIA contributed to), APHIS has proposed changes to the Animal Welfare Act regarding the importation of dogs. These changes will improve the health and well-being of dogs involved in this underregulated practice, while reducing the risk of harmful infections and zoonotic diseases to U.S. citizens and their pets. Here are some of the highlights:

  • More stringent health certificate and rabies vaccination requirements. Certificates must be written in English by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Better identification and tracking. Persons involved in importing the dog must identify themselves (name, address, etc.); dogs must be identified as well (breed, sex, age, color, markings, etc.).
  • Persons importing dogs must present their permit at the first port of arrival, in order to ensure that the dog(s) are eligible for importation.
  • Penalizes those who try to import dogs without proper certification: dogs may be seized, and the person trying to import the dog is liable for the cost of the dog’s care (which can include expensive veterinary procedures).

Please note that these rules do not prohibit people from bringing foreign dogs into the United States, nor do they arbitrarily punish or single individuals out for undue hardship. These rules merely put common sense safeguards in place in order to better ensure the health of imported animals and the communities they will be living in.

Issues like this may not be the most glamorous or dramatic; it is unlikely we will ever hear Sarah McLachlan sing about the cruelty of puppy smuggling. But these proposed rules are positive, reasonable changes that are necessary to address one of today’s important animal welfare and public health concerns. APHIS is taking comments on these proposed rules until October 31st, 2011. Comments can be made here:!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2009-0053-0001. It is imperative that you take this opportunity to let your elected officials know how serious this issue is.

In the coming days, NAIA will be providing more information on these proposed rules as well as the issue of dog importation. In the meanwhile, if you’ve got strong eyes and a fair amount of patience, check out the current Federal Register for a full description (starting on page 54392). Stay tuned!

Patti Strand, NAIA National Director

P.S. For more NAIA news and views, check out our blog: informative and entertaining, with new content available most weekdays. And did you know that you can support NAIA while you shop by using your own official NAIA credit card? Why yes you can – apply for yours here! Finally, don’t forget to sign up for our raffle to earn a chance at winning a trip to the 2011 World Dog Show in Salzburg, Austria!

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