Source: Concord Monitor (Extract)
Posted: July 02, 2024

If you’re considering bringing your family puppy on a quick visit to Canada this summer, be aware of upcoming changes to rabies vaccination regulations effective August 1st.

These changes, mandated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, are prompted by concerns regarding rabies transmission from dogs, particularly rescue dogs, that may not have complete vaccination records or whose paperwork is inaccurate or falsified.

Responding to inquiries from the Monitor, the American Kennel Club affirmed that these regulations apply even to dogs taken out of the country for a brief day trip.

The new rules include several requirements:

  • Dogs must be at least six months old to enter the U.S. Because immune systems have not fully developed in younger dogs and they can’t yet receive a full series of vaccines and boosters, young puppies are easily infected.
  • Owners must have documentation about valid rabies vaccination and must have filled out a CDC Dog Import Form that includes “a clear photograph of the dog showing its face and body.” Dogs younger than one “should have the photograph taken within 10 days before arrival,” says the CDC. This is designed to ensure that the paperwork applies to the dog who is crossing the border. 
  • Dogs must also have an International Organization for Standardization (ISO)-compatible microchip to enter or re-enter the country.

For details about the new requirements, see the CDC website.

Rules are stricter when bringing a dog into the U.S. from 113 countries designated as at high risk for rabies. Neither Canada nor Mexico are on the list but several Caribbean and Central American countries are.

The revisions are a response to the surge in international pet movements, particularly during the pandemic, with a notable increase in pet imports into the U.S., estimated at around 1 million dogs annually.

Although rabies was eradicated in U.S. dogs in 2007, unvaccinated dogs remain susceptible to contracting the disease from wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, or bats. Rabies is among the deadliest diseases transmitted from animals to humans, claiming approximately 59,000 lives each year. Once symptoms manifest, the illness is almost always fatal.

During the initial year of the pandemic, the CDC reported a 52% rise in dogs ineligible for entry into the U.S. due to falsified or fraudulent documentation. Instances included rabies-positive dogs imported into the U.S. by animal rescue groups using forged documentation.

Lori Kalef, Director of Programs at SPCA International, stated, “This updated regulation will enable us to continue safely and efficiently bringing dogs into the U.S.”

While acknowledging the initiative, the American Kennel Club expressed concerns in a statement, describing the new regulations as “overly broad and disproportionately affecting purebred dog enthusiasts who import personal pets or engage in international collaborations, as well as dog event competitors who travel internationally.”