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In May, two major federal issues dominated the canine legislation landscape.

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee unveiled its draft for the 2024 Farm Bill, officially titled the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024. This essential legislation reauthorizes U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs for five years and includes significant provisions affecting canine health and welfare. Among the bill’s highlights are enhanced protections under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), expanded resources for USDA enforcement, and requirements for timely notification of state and local authorities when dogs are found in unacceptable conditions. The bill also aligns with the Healthy Dog Importation Act by mandating electronic health documentation for imported dogs, ensuring they are in good health, properly vaccinated, and at least six months old if intended for transfer. (The measure does not increase the threshold age for the entrance of privately owned pets not for transfer.)  Furthermore, the bill includes funding for transitional shelters for domestic violence victims with pets and permanent funding for USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center, known for training dogs to detect invasive pests. The AKC has praised these provisions and urges the House Agriculture Committee to advance the bill without amendments, highlighting its potential to support both agricultural needs and the welfare of dogs.

Separately, and in addition, a new final rule issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also addresses public health and canine import issues. Unlike import language in the Farm Bill, which is legislation pertaining to USDA, the CDC requirements are a final rule, based on the CDC’s existing statutory authority to address serious public health threats. (Learn more about the difference between legislation and regulation in GR’s new fact sheet.)

Effective August 1, 2024, the CDC rule requires all dogs entering the U.S. to: (1) Appear healthy upon arrival, (2) Be at least six months of age, (3) Have an ISO-compatible microchip implanted for identification purposes, and (4) Be accompanied by a CDC Dog Import Form online submission receipt (no cost). A significant difference between the rule of the legislation in the Farm Biil is that the CDC rule offers no exemptions for travelling with personally-owned dogs under six months of age. For dogs entering the U.S. from countries that are not DMRVV- free or “low risk:, additional  documents will be required.

The primary goal of the canine import language in both measures is to prevent the introduction and spread of serious diseases such as canine rabies (DMRVV), which is almost always fatal and poses a significant threat to public and animal health. The measures are a response to threats caused by a notable increase in dogs entering the country with falsified health documentation, leading to several instances of rabies-positive dogs entering the U.S.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) supports strong measures such as those in the Farm Bill and the Healthy Dog Importation Act (H.R.1184/S.502) that require verified health documentation to protect public and pet health. However, AKC has also expressed concerns that the new CDC import rule’s no-exceptions prohibition on the import of dogs under the age of 6 months fails to consider the significantly lower risk profile for personally-owned pets than for animals being imported for transfer (resale/ adoption) and creates disparate burden for law-abiding dog enthusiasts, breeders, and competitors. The AKC encourages affected individuals to communicate their concerns to the CDC.

On the state and local levels, AKC staff continue to meet legislators where they are, by going to events where they meet. At the  Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) Annual Conference, AKC GR provided an informational booth featuring materials of interest to lawmakers about responsible dog ownership, training, and breeding, as well as resources sharing information about affiliated clubs and charities. AKC GR also co-hosted the  Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus meeting in Baton Rouge. AKC, Caucus leaders, event speakers, and representatives of national conservation organizations discussed the valuable role of sportsmen and women in their communities and the locations where they host events.

Be sure to check out the new alerts and resources in this issue and visit our Legislative Action Center at  If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to AKC Government Relations at