CDC Implements New Entry Requirements for Dogs to Curb Rabies Risk

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CDC Implements New Entry Requirements for Dogs to Curb Rabies Risk

The CDC has announced stringent new regulations for dogs entering the U.S., aimed at preventing the spread of rabies, effective from August 2024.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled new regulations on Wednesday to tighten the rules for dogs entering the United States, citing the need to control rabies transmission. The CDC posted these regulations in the Federal Register, with the rules set to take effect on August 1, 2024.

The new requirements come as a response to the ongoing threat of rabies, a virus with a 99 percent fatality rate once symptoms appear. The CDC highlights that dog rabies remains uncontrolled in over 100 countries, posing a significant risk to the U.S. “Preventing infected dogs from entering the United States is a public health priority,” the CDC stated, emphasizing the potential high costs—more than half a million dollars—to contain each case of rabies introduced by dogs.

Under the new regulations, all dogs entering the U.S. must appear healthy and be at least six months old. They must also have a microchip and carry a CDC dog import form filled out between two to ten days prior to arrival. The rules cover all dogs, including service animals and those returning from trips abroad, regardless of the traveler’s citizenship status.

Dogs arriving from countries deemed high-risk for rabies or those vaccinated abroad may face additional requirements, such as undergoing a blood test to confirm rabies immunity, a physical examination upon arrival, and possibly a 28-day quarantine. Dogs whose rabies vaccinations expire prior to re-entry must have a follow-up titer test at least 30 days after receiving a booster vaccine.

The CDC also warned that non-compliance with these rules could result in the dog being denied entry and returned to the country of last departure at the owner’s expense. For detailed guidance, dog owners are encouraged to consult the CDC’s DogBot website, which provides specific rules based on the dog’s country of origin and vaccination history.

While several animal rescue organizations, including the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), have supported the new rules, the Humane Society has expressed concerns. Tracie Letterman, vice president of federal affairs at Humane Society Legislative Fund, criticized the rules for potentially causing “great anguish and breaking up families,” especially affecting government personnel and military families returning to the U.S. with their pets. The new regulations, she argues, could significantly delay or deter animal rescue operations by organizations like the Humane Society, forcing them to make “heartbreaking decisions.”

Rabies symptoms in dogs can escalate from vomiting, lethargy, and fever to more severe conditions such as cerebral dysfunction, paralysis, and even death. According to the VCA Animal Hospitals, unlike in humans, hydrophobia (fear of water) is not a symptom of rabies in dogs. The progression of the disease in canines often ends in a violent seizure resulting in death.