The Healthy Dog Importation Act of 2021 was reintroduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., And Dusty Johnson, RS.D., co-chairs of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus. The legislation would provide additional resources to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to monitor and protect the health of dogs introduced into the U.S. to ensure they are in good health and not at risk of being dangerous Spreading diseases that pose a threat to animals and public health.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the National Pork Producers Council reiterated their support for the law designed to reduce the spread of diseases that could be dangerous to both human and animal health.
“Protecting the health of any dog imported into the US is essential to maintaining animal health and reducing the potential spread of zoonotic diseases,” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, President of AVMA. “Legislation reinstated in Congress today tightens import regulations for dogs and provides the USDA and other federal agencies with the resources they need to responsibly monitor the large numbers of dogs that enter our country each year. We must have a robust inspection system in place in all U.S. ports of entry for dogs. Thank you to Reps Kurt Schrader and Dusty Johnson for their leadership role in Congress on this important issue. “
The Healthy Dog Importation Act would require that every imported dog produce a certificate of veterinary examination from a licensed veterinarian confirming that the dog is healthy and has received all vaccinations and passed all tests required by the USDA.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a million dogs are imported into the US each year, but fewer than one percent of those dogs are screened for diseases such as rabies, flu, hepatitis, and distemper. Recently, the CDC introduced a temporary suspension of dogs imported from countries considered to be at high risk for canine rabies. This communication underscores the need to permanently improve the import standards for dogs.
The legislation would streamline federal oversight between the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, CDC, and Customs and Border Patrol by creating an electronic database of documentation and import permits. This database would help the federal government properly screen dogs entering the United States, thereby reducing the risk of introducing dogs that can transmit infectious diseases.
“As a veterinarian, I know the close relationship between animals and humans and what is necessary to ensure their health and safety,” says Rep. Schrader. “The Healthy Dog Importation Act would finally provide the necessary oversight to ensure that the dogs brought into our country are healthy and do not endanger our people, our pets or our food supply chain. By taking critical safety precautions, we can identify potentially serious safety concerns and prevent those threats from becoming a public health crisis. “
Rep. Johnson commented, “When animal diseases are transmitted to other animals or humans, they can wipe out farm animals, kill thousands of people, cripple economies and destabilize entire nations. With the CDC’s recent decision to suspend imports of dogs, the Healthy Dog Import Act will ensure that imports of pets from countries like China can be resumed safely as long as pets are up to date on vaccinations and from one Approved veterinarian have been properly screened for specific diseases.
NPPC thanked Schrader and Johnson for introducing laws to protect pets and farm animals from alien animal diseases (FADs).
“Earlier this year, NPPC sounded the alarm because imported rescue dogs from (FAD) -positive countries could potentially serve as disease carriers from their litter, boxes or coats. Preventing African swine fever and other FADs from entering the country is a top priority for NPPC, and NPPC supports this law and other efforts to keep FADs out of the country, ”said Rachel Gantz, Director of Communications, NPPC.