As previously reported, the federal Health Dog Importation Act (“the Act”), introduced and sponsored by the three veterinarians in Congress Reps. Abraham, Yoho and Schrader, (Rep. Abraham is also a physician), targets and attempts to minimize threats to human and animal health from the over 1 million dogs imported into the US annually without adequate health screening. The Act, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, published July 17, 2020, has been heralded by the National Animal Interest Alliance, American Veterinary Medical Association and American Kennel Club as a necessary step to protect against the spread of infectious diseases and parasites. These organizations and others, including the American Pet Products Association, American Sheep Industry Association, Animal Health Institute, National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, North American Veterinary Community, Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and World Pet Association, recently signed a letter of support for the bill, stating,
[f]or the vast majority of imported dogs, rabies vaccination documentation is the only prerequisite for entering the country. Despite this, in the past five years, we have seen several cases of rabid dogs coming from Egypt, necessitating the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) to suspend all canine imports from Egypt. Furthermore, imported dogs can also carry – and have been documented carrying – other infectious diseases and parasites (e.g. canine influenza, leptospirosis, melioidosis, onchocercosis and screwworm) that pose a severe threat to other companion animals and livestock.
Mary Kennedy Withrow, a member of the state Dog Law Advisory Board, reportedly admitted that there is a risk to the importation of dogs to the Northeast, and that the Advisory Board is considering adopting importation requirements.
It has been well-established that the number of dogs for sale or adoption in the Northeast and other areas of the US have dramatically decreased as a result of successful voluntary spay-neuter programs and misguided bans on sales of professionally -bred dogs. This led to the influx of dogs from other states and countries through transfers from shelter to shelter or rescue organizations, as well as the importation of dogs bred in other countries for sale in the US.
While the Healthy Dog Importation Act would not provide needed regulation over dogs in interstate commerce through shelter and rescue channels, it would regulate dogs imported from other countries, to prevent spread of infectious diseases and pests.