Late yesterday, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an extension of the temporary suspension of dog imports from countries classified as high risk for rabies. The current suspension period was to conclude on January 31. Today’s announcement extends the suspension period until July 31, 2023.
According to the CDC, the suspension remains necessary to protect the public’s health against the reintroduction of the dog-maintained rabies virus variant (DMRVV) into the United States. Insufficient veterinary controls in high-risk countries to prevent the export of inadequately vaccinated dogs, and veterinary supply chain and workforce capacity shortages that have persisted since the global COVID-19 pandemic continue to be factors that necessitate this action.
CDC imposed a temporary suspension of dog importations from high-risk countries into the U.S. on July 14, 2021. The temporary suspension was issued at a time when resources were being diverted to the CDC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time the temporary suspension was issued, CDC noted an increase in importers circumventing dog import regulations. Despite a decrease in international travel due to COVID-19, CDC noted a 52% increase in dogs ineligible for entry in 2020 compared to the two previous years. Additionally, four rabid dogs were imported into the U.S. between 2015 and 2021. Responding to COVID-19 severely limited the availability of public health resources to address the increased risk of the reintroduction of DMRVV. CDC also implemented a CDC Dog Import Permit during the suspension to verify the documentation of imported dogs before they are flown into the U.S.
In June 2022, CDC modified and extended the suspension through January 31, 2023. Under the modified suspension, all categories of importers have been eligible to import dogs from high-risk counties. Commercially imported dogs are required to enter the U.S. at a port of entry with a live animal care facility. CDC also expanded the list of approved ports of entry to include 18 airports with a CDC quarantine station for imported dogs with a valid U.S.-issued rabies vaccination certificate or a CDC Dog Import Permit. CDC also reduced the waiting period requirement (i.e., the number of days between when a dog’s sample is taken for a serologic titer test and when a dog can be imported into the U.S.) from 90 to 45 days. The modification also allowed importers with dogs that are at least six months old, are microchipped, and have a valid U.S.-issued rabies vaccination certificate to enter the U.S. without a CDC Dog Import Permit at one of the 18 approved airports provided the dog appears healthy upon arrival.
The American Kennel Club’s Government Relations Department (AKC GR) encourages everyone who may be impacted by the rule update to carefully review the information contained in CDC’s January 24 notice. Table 1 of the notice (beginning on page 41) summarizes the entry conditions for dogs under the new guidelines. Those needing additional information on proper importation are encouraged to call Dr. Emily Pieracci, D.V.M., of the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at 1-800-232-4636; or email AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.