AVMA supports federal legislation to strengthen importation of dogs entering US

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For immediate release: 05/19/2020

(SCHAUMBURG, IL) May 19, 2020 --The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) today announced its strong support of the Healthy Dog Importation Act, aimed at ensuring that dogs entering the United States do not pose a health risk to humans or animals.

Sponsored by the three veterinarians in Congress, provisions of the act would give the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) new tools and authority to monitor and safeguard the health of dogs being imported, ensuring that dogs are in good health and not a risk to spread dangerous diseases that could impact animal and public health.

“For far too long, dogs have been entering the United States without proper inspection, increasing the risk of disease introduction and transmission,” said Dr. John Howe, President of the AVMA. “We commend Reps. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) for introducing common-sense legislation that would establish health and vaccination requirements for dogs imported into the US. The Healthy Dog Importation Act protects animal and human health by ensuring that imported dogs are healthy and free from disease and parasites before entering the United States.”

The Healthy Dog Importation Act would require every dog entering the U.S. to have a certificate of veterinary inspection, as well as certification that the dog has all the required vaccinations as well as negative test results for illness. 

Up to 1.245 million dogs are estimated to be imported into the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Under the Healthy Dog Importation Act, every dog entering the country would be permanently identified, in good health, and certified by a licensed veterinarian, accredited by a competent veterinary authority recognized by the USDA Secretary, that it has received all the proper vaccinations.

“This is not only about protecting dog health, but also the health of other animals and public health,” said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, Director of the AVMA’s Government Relations Division. “In the past, there have been documented cases where diseases like rabies, canine influenza, and a strain of Asian canine distemper virus never before reported in North America that have been introduced by imported dogs and these diseases end up potentially impacting healthy dogs and other animals.”

About the AVMA

The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world, with more than 95,000 member veterinarians worldwide engaged in a wide variety of professional activities and dedicated to the art and science of veterinary medicine.