As previously reported, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has proposed a new rule to address the public health risk of dog-maintained rabies virus variant (DMRVV) associated with the importation of dogs into the United States.
CDC notes that the close relationship between dogs and people means that there is a direct public health risk to individuals who interact with inadequately vaccinated dogs imported from countries at high risk for DMRVV.
Through the proposed rule, CDC seeks to prevent and deter the importation of dogs with falsified or fraudulent rabies vaccination documentation by, in part, incorporating practices during the current suspension of dog imports from rabies high-risk counties that CDC has found effective in better protecting the public’s health.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has been a vocal supporter of the federal Healthy Dog Importation Act as a way to address the threat of highly contagious and zoonotic diseases such as rabies, canine influenza and distemper, which have been carried into the U.S. by dogs imported without basic veterinary checks or valid health certificates.
AKC strongly encourages all breeders and owners, particularly those who import dogs as part of their breeding programs and for exhibition, to thoroughly review the extensive proposed rule in its entirety; and to provide comment to the CDC on how the proposal would impact you. Likewise, AKC will also provide comments on the rule.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF PROPOSED RULE:
For all dog imports:
- Dog must be microchipped with an ISO-compatible chip. Microchip information would be included on importation documents.
- Dog must be at least six months of age; however, an exception would permit an owner to import a maximum of three individual pet dogs under six months of age in the same calendar year if arriving in the U.S. via a U.S. land port through Canada or Mexico, provided the dogs have not been in a DMRVV high-risk or -restricted country since birth.
- Importer submission of online CDC Import Submission Form prior to arrival in the U.S.; and present confirmation of submission to an airline prior to boarding (if arriving by air) and upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry.
- Requirements for airlines to (1) confirm the dog possess all required import documentation based on the country of origin, (2) provide safe housing, and (3) assist public health officials in determining an animal’s cause of death.
For dogs imported from countries that are classified as free or low-risk for DMRVV:
- Would be permitted to arrive at any U.S. port.
- In lieu of vaccination form, importers may provide proof that dogs have only been in DMRVV-free or DMRVV low-risk countries during the previous six months prior to arriving the U.S.
For importing a dog that has been in a DMRVV high-risk country, regardless of whether it was vaccinated in a foreign country or in the U.S., the following would also be required:
- Submit a standardized vaccination form verifying the rabies vaccination status for dogs.
- For dogs that have been in a high-risk country in the past six months and have a valid U.S.-issued rabies vaccination certificate, arrival would be required to be at a U.S. airport with a CDC quarantine station.
- For dogs that have been in a high-risk country in the past six months and were vaccinated in a foreign country, arrival would be required to be at a U.S. airport with a CDC quarantine station and a CDC-registered Animal Care Facility.
For importing a U.S.-vaccinated dog presenting for re-entry into the U.S. from high-risk countries:
- Prior to traveling out of the U.S., a USDA-Accredited Veterinarian would need to complete and sign a Certification of U.S.-issued Rabies Vaccination for Live Dog Re-entry into the United States form. The form shall be certified by a USDA Official Veterinarian prior to departing the U.S. and would need to be presented by the importer to the airline to board the dog on its return flight to the U.S. (and to any U.S. government official upon request). Dogs arriving with this form would not be subject to the requirement for veterinary examination (unless ill, injured, or exposed), revaccination, verification of adequate rabies serologic tests, and/or post-vaccination quarantine at a CDC-registered Animal Care Facility.
- Required to enter U.S. at an airport with a CDC quarantine station.
For importing a foreign-vaccinated dog from high-risk countries into the U.S.:
- Required to enter U.S. through an airport with a CDC quarantine station and a CDC-registered Animal Care Facility.
- Obtain a rabies serologic test from a CDC-approved lab demonstrating adequate titer levels. (Those who cannot obtain serologic testing prior to importation would be required to have their dogs remain under quarantine at the facility for 28 days after revaccination or until verification of an adequate rabies serologic test from a CDC-approved lab is obtained, whichever occurs first.)
- Have a reservation at the CDC-registered Animal Care Facility, and have their dog undergo a veterinary exam and revaccination.
U.S.- and foreign-vaccinated service dogs that have been in a high-risk country within the last six months will be permitted to enter the U.S. at a U.S. seaport if:
- The dog is at least six months of age.
- Has a microchip.
- Has either a Certification of U.S.-issued Rabies Vaccination for Live Dog Re-entry into the United States form OR a complete, accurate, and valid CDC Import Certification of Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Required for Live Dog Importations into the Untied States form, as appropriate.
- Has sufficient and valid titer results from a CDC-approved laboratory (if the dog is foreign-vaccination).
CDC also proposes to prohibit or otherwise restrict the importation of dogs into the U.S. from certain countries that have a history of exporting dogs infected with DMRVV to other countries or have demonstrated a lack of appropriate veterinary controls to prevent the exportation of rabid dogs.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Interested dog owners are strongly encouraged to submit comments to CDC by Friday, September 8, 2023. Comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2023-0051 or RIN 0920-AA82, may be submitted:
- Via the Federal Rulemaking Portal.
- By mail, to the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, NE, MS H16-4, Atlanta, GA 30329.
FOR MORE INFORMATION on the proposed rule, contact Ashley C. Altenburger, J.D., and Dr. Emily Pieracci, D.V.M, with CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.
1600 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 3329
AKC Government Relations (GR) will provide additional information on the proposal, including its comments to CDC, throughout the comment period; and will provide updates on this rulemaking process as developments warrant. For more information, contact AKC GR at email@example.com.