AVMA helps reignite congressional push to strengthen dog importation standards

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(WASHINGTON, DC) February 27, 2023 — The AVMA-championed Healthy Dog Importation Act – a bill that would help prevent the introduction and spread of diseases impacting animal and human health – has been reintroduced in both houses of Congress. The legislation would improve importation standards to ensure a dog is in good health when being imported into the United States.

Under the Healthy Dog Importation Act, the necessary resources would be allocated to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies to responsibly screen the large number of dogs entering the U.S. each year. It would also ensure every imported dog would have a certificate of inspection from a licensed veterinarian confirming they are in good health and not at risk of spreading diseases that could endanger animal and public health.

Gaining momentum from the previous Congress, the Healthy Dog Importation Act was introduced by Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Annie Kuster (D-N.H.).

“Strengthening our animal health infrastructure by improving the country’s dog importation standards is essential to maintaining public health,” said Dr. Lori Teller, AVMA President. “There are over a million dogs imported into the U.S. each year and we must ensure they are in good health and not a risk to spread dangerous diseases. Senators Tina Smith and Chuck Grassley and Representatives Dusty Johnson and Annie Kuster recognize the protection this bipartisan legislation would provide to our country. As the new Congress begins, the AVMA will continue to educate lawmakers about the importance of the Healthy Dog Importation Act and work to pass the bill into law.”

“Human and animal health are inextricably linked, and we know that taking proactive steps can help prevent health emergencies,” said Senator Smith. “That’s why the Healthy Dog Importation Act is so important. Mitigating the spread of foreign diseases in dogs helps keep domestic and wild animals healthy. It can also help prevent illnesses and disease outbreaks in people. I will continue working to move this bipartisan bill forward.”

“Maintaining animal health is critical to our nation’s overall public health goals. It’s important that we work to stop the spread of diseases that can hurt both animals and humans,” said Senator Grassley. “This commonsense proposal will leverage an existing program to ensure that all dogs entering the country are healthy and not at risk of spreading dangerous diseases.”

“We have seen several outbreaks of diseases among animals and humans in the past few years – the Healthy Dog Importation Act would slow and prevent the outbreaks of some of these diseases,” said Rep. Johnson. “We want people in good health when they enter America. It should be the same for dogs. Thank you to AVMA for their support of this bill.”

“We must do more to ensure that animals brought to the United States are safe and healthy,” said Rep. Kuster. “I am proud to help reintroduce this bipartisan legislation to increase safety protocols and disease protection for dogs finding their forever homes in America. This bill will help bring together loving owners with healthy animals — a win-win-win for families, pets, and public health.”

About the AVMA

Serving more than 105,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.