Ruff life: Dogs will face new international travel restrictions

Jul 12, 2021

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There’s bad news for dog owners trying to bring their pets to the U.S.

Beginning on Wednesday, July 14, new rules from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention take effect that bar dogs from entering the U.S. from countries classified as high risk for dog rabies.

Any dog that arrives from a high-risk country, or a dog that’s been in a high-risk country during the past six months, will not be allowed to be brought into the U.S.

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You can find the full list of high-risk countries on the CDC website, but some highlights include many destinations served by U.S.-flagged carriers including Belize, Brazil, Colombia and South Africa.

Though the suspension is billed as “temporary,” there’s no specified end date in the CDC order. The agency says that the reason for the ban is to prevent dog rabies from entering the U.S, where the disease has been eliminated since 2007.

“Inadequately vaccinated dogs are not protected against rabies and are a public health threat. Rabies is fatal in both humans and animals, and the importation of even one rabid dog could result in transmission to humans, pets, and wildlife,” the CDC website reads.

According to the CDC, the agency has seen a sharp increase in the number of imported dogs that were denied entry from high-risk countries. When dogs are denied entry, they need to return to their country of departure. However, with reduced flight schedules due to the pandemic, many dogs have encountered a multiday delay to return home, which has led to illness and, in some cases, death.

If you’re attempting to bring your dog to the U.S. from one of the affected countries, you can apply for a CDC Dog Import Permit, which will only be approved on a limited case-by-case basis.

(Photo by Richard Atrero de Guzman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The application process will take at least six weeks, or 30 business days, to be reviewed, so you should get a head start if the order applies to you. Note that there’s no appeals process should the CDC deny your application, nor can you arrive in the U.S. and expect to apply for a permit upon arrival.

There’s another major caveat to bringing an at-risk dog to the U.S. If you ultimately receive approval from the CDC, you’ll need to enter the country at New York’s JFK airport, the only point of entry with a live animal care facility that’s been approved by the Customs and Border Protection agency.

This isn’t the only recent policy change to traveling with your pet. In late 2020, the Department of Transportation closed a major loophole that allowed emotional support animals to be considered service animals.

Once the revised order took effect in early 2021, every major U.S. airline started banning emotional support animals, both on domestic and international routes.

Featured photo by nadisja/Getty Images.

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