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Beginning in August, new rules to affect dogs entering U.S. from abroad

To control rabies, border agents say dogs entering country must be healthy, microchipped

By Chris Benson
As many as 1 million dogs enter the United States every year, most without proper screening for infectious diseases, according to a health expert in a report last year outlining how tropical diseases may be spreading via infected dogs brought to United States. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 2 | As many as 1 million dogs enter the United States every year, most without proper screening for infectious diseases, according to a health expert in a report last year outlining how tropical diseases may be spreading via infected dogs brought to United States. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

June 10 (UPI) -- In an effort to control rabies, the federal government on Monday said that changes will take effect near the end of summer for dogs entering the United States.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said that, as of August 1, dogs entering the country must: appear healthy upon arrival, be at least 6 months of age, be microchipped and accompanied by a CDC Dog Import Form receipt.

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Proof of a rabies vaccination possibly may be required based on where the dog was in the last 6 months prior to arriving in the United States and where the canine got vaccinated.

Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease that can be spread to people and pets through bites and scratches of an infected animal, according to the CDC. Rabies primarily affects the central nervous system leading to severe brain disease and death if medical care is not received before symptoms start.

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As many as 1 million dogs enter the United States every year, most without proper screening for infectious diseases, according to a health expert in a report last year outlining how tropical diseases may be spreading via infected dogs brought to United States.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say dog rabies is currently not controlled in more than 100 of 195 countries, which is why, they say "there is an inherent risk in imported dogs."

In their effort to prevent rabies, the CDC in early May first announced it was going to tighten rules for bringing dogs into the country.

For dogs arriving from countries with a high risk of dog rabies, "they must be protected against rabies" as of August this year. The new changes were put in place at the urging of the CDC, according to a news release.

A 2023 study indicates that more than half of U.S. dog owners have expressed their concern over pet vaccines, including for rabies, in post-pandemic America.

So regulating dog imports into the United States, a CBP official said, "helps protect the health and safety of people and their pets."

Cebu City in the Philippines, a country on a high-risk list for rabies, on Thursday reported an "alarming" number of 17 local dog rabies cases from January to June.

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"The rabies variant carried by dogs was eliminated in the U.S. in 2007 and we're working diligently in concert with the Center for Disease Control to prevent its reintroduction," said Donovan Delude, a CBP port director.

But a KKCO 11 News report in Colorado shows that when humans are exposed to rabies via their pet, "treatment is not cheap" as they look at the cost of "surviving rabies today" in a segment airing Monday afternoon on multiple television stations.

Nigeria is among the more than 100 countries considered by the CDC to have a high risk of dog rabies.

In Nigeria alone, approximately 55,000 people die each year from human rabies with rabid dogs accounting for about 94% of confirmed human infection, according to a Nigerian public health expert.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more for individuals bringing a dog into the United States.

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