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New Dog Importation Regulations Will Take Effect August 1

For individuals seeking to bring dogs into the United States, the process may soon involve more documentation and restrictions, as new regulations enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) take effect on August 1, 2024. These regulations will replace the temporary suspension on the importation of dogs from high-risk rabies areas, which the CDC implemented in July 2021. Read on to learn what pet owners and pet care providers need to know about the new dog importation regulations.

What Do the Regulations Require?

With a stated goal of preventing the reintroduction of dog rabies, which was eliminated in the U.S. in 2007, the new CDC regulations require that all dogs entering the country on or after August 1 must:

  • Appear healthy upon arrival;
  • Be at least six months of age;
  • Be microchipped with an ISO-compliant chip; and
  • Be accompanied by an online submission receipt for a CDC Dog Import Form. These forms will be available at the CDC’s website beginning July 15.

Additional requirements may apply based on where the dog has been in the last six months and whether the dog was vaccinated for rabies in the U.S. For example, if a dog was vaccinated outside the U.S. and has spent time in a country with a high risk of rabies within the six months preceding import into the U.S., they must present (with a reservation) at a port with a CDC-registered animal care facility. At this facility, they will undergo a physical exam and revaccination, and will either need to complete a 28-day quarantine or show proof of an adequate rabies titer from a CDC-approved laboratory.

There are fewer additional requirements for dogs coming from countries with a low risk of rabies, or those that were previously vaccinated in the U.S. For instance, U.S.-vaccinated dogs will not be required to quarantine or have a rabies titer performed upon reentry; as long as their rabies vaccine is current and they meet the other requirements, they may come back into the country with either a USDA-endorsed Certification of US-Issued Rabies Vaccination form or a USDA-endorsed export health certificate that includes the dog’s age, microchip number, and rabies vaccine information.

Who is Subject to the New Regulations?

The new rules apply to all dogs, including puppies, service animals, and dogs that left the U.S. and are now returning. Anyone transporting these dogs must comply, regardless of whether they are a U.S. citizen or not.

What are the Consequences for Failing to Comply?

Dogs that do not meet these new requirements will be denied entry into the U.S. and will be sent back to the last country of departure at the owner or handler’s expense. The country of departure refers to where the last trip originated—not where the dog was born or where it lives.

Implications of the New Regulations

Many groups in the animal community have raised concerns about the burden that the new regulations will place on Americans traveling with pets (including military families returning home after living abroad), as well as international rescue organizations. For instance, the Humane Society of the United States has noted that the regulations will likely impede its efforts and those of other animal welfare organizations to rescue dogs in crisis situations around the world. Additionally, the regulations will present a significant obstacle for dog owners who may have ethical or religious objections to vaccinating or microchipping their pets.

For dog owners and pet care providers who may be affected by the new rules, preparing in advance is crucial. For example, the American Animal Hospital Association emphasizes that now more than ever, veterinarians must ensure that their canine patients have a working, ISO-compliant microchip and valid rabies vaccination. It’s also important for professionals across the pet care industry, including boarding facilities, dog trainers, groomers and more, to spread the word and educate their clients about the upcoming changes.

To learn more about the CDC’s new dog importation regulations or use an interactive tool called DogBot, which can help dog owners determine how the rules will apply in their particular situation, visit https://www.cdc.gov/importation/bringing-an-animal-into-the-united-states/dogs.html