This week the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was banning the importation of dogs into the U.S. from more than 100 countries. The agency targeted countries it considered to be high risk for rabies. This move comes after many animals entered the US with false rabies vaccination certificates last year, according to the agency.
During the pandemic, animal adoptions increased with rescue organizations bringing in dogs from other parts of the world to meet demand – and give the animal a better life. But with that, there was an increase of false rabies certificates, up 52% over the past two years, Dr. Emily Pieracci, a rabies expert at the CDC, told NPR. In 2020, of the more than 1 million dogs who enter the US, 450 had false rabies certificates.
Rabies, considered one of the deadliest diseases that can be passed from animals and humas, account for about 59,000 deaths in people, according to Pieracci.
“What we’re really trying to do is prevent the reintroduction of rabies back into the United States from a source outside of the U.S.,” she added.
While some applaud this move, the ban puts additional pressure on international rescue organizations that save dogs living in horrendous conditions and bringing them to the U.S. for those seeking a four-legged friend. These groups were already dealt a blow due to travel bans and increase costs in travel. This makes their mission even more challenging.
“The frustrating part is that it doesn’t even seem to be based on logic, as they are claiming that the reason for the ban was that they found 450 falsified vaccination records out of over 1,000,000 (.045%) in the last year when they usually find 300 in a normal year,” Mark Diekmann, president of Dogs and Cats of the Dominican Republic, a country that is part of the ban, told us in an email. “This is not even animals with rabies, but just records they found that some irresponsible people falsified”
He adds, “I don’t think this ban will have the slightest effect on rabies in the U.S. It will just hurt a lot of animals who are trying to find a home or get home with their owners,” he says. “It will harm the many reputable rescues working hard every day in the streets trying to save lives.”
Meredith Ayan, the executive director of SPCA International, told NPR that “The U.S. already has strict quarantine and rabies vaccination procedures in place that have proved highly effective for many years in keeping animals in the U.S. safe from rabies and which we encourage the CDC to keep enforcing.”
The ban doesn’t just affect rescue animals; it also applies to dogs who have lived or traveled abroad with their owners. For those falling under the group, the CDC says people can apply for a special permit, though, these permits can’t be used for adoptions or emotional support animals.
The ban goes into effect July 14.
Here is the complete list of banned countries:
- Algeria, Angola
- Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi
- Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti
- Egypt (Temporary importation suspension of dogs from Egypt until further notice)
- Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini (Swaziland), Ethiopia
- Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau
- Lesotho, Liberia, Libya
- Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique
- Namibia, Niger, Nigeria
- Republic of the Congo, Rwanda
- Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan
- Tanzania (including Zanzibar), Togo, Tunisia
- Western Sahara
- Zambia, Zimbabwe
Americas & Caribbean
- Belize, Bolivia, Brazil
- Colombia, Cuba
- Dominican Republic
- Ecuador, El Salvador
- Guatemala, Guyana
- Haiti, Honduras
Asia and the Middle East, Eastern Europe
- Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan
- Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Brunei
- Cambodia, China (excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan)
- India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq
- Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan
- Laos, Lebanon
- Malaysia, Moldova, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma)
- Nepal, North Korea
- Pakistan, Philippines
- Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria
- Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Turkey, Turkmenistan
- Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan