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Pets & Animals: US imposes new rules on dog travellers

Travelling with you pooch to the United States? Take note of new travel rules for canines
The United States has imposed new rules for travellers with dogs.

Camping season is here, but travelling to the states with Fido is about to get a little more complicated.

On May 8, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States announced changes to the importation of dogs to the United States. Slated to come into effect Aug. 1, dog owners wishing to bring their pets on vacation with them will have to comply with new rules, requiring a little forward planning from pet owners.

Previously, to drive to the United States from Canada, dogs would simply have to be up to date on their rabies vaccines and you would have to carry your vaccine record with you, though it was rarely asked for. If you intended to fly with your dog, a Health Certificate signed by your veterinarian was also required, which was more of a requirement by the airline, not necessarily the US government.

All that is about to change in order to prevent the spread of dog-maintained rabies virus into the US, prevent fraudulent or falsified rabies documentation from imports and tracking the total number of dog importations. 

It is also to align with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE, for “Office International des Epizooties”, the original name of the group) guidelines. The OIE, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control joined forces to start the Zero by 30 campaign

There are an estimated 60,000 deaths due to rabies annually, 40 per cent of those being children in Asia and Africa, and almost all human rabies deaths are caused by dog bites. Deaths that are preventable, with vaccines, medicine and technology that is readily available. In response to this, these organizations  set a goal to create a global collaborative response to rabies control and have zero human deaths caused by rabies virus by 2030. 

So what does this mean for you? All dogs entering the united states MUST:

  • Be at least six months of age at time of entry or return;
  • Have an implanted International Organization for Standardization (ISO) compatible microchip:
    • Implanted prior to rabies vaccination, and the number must appear on all documentation and veterinary records;
  • Appear healthy on arrival;
  • Have a CDC Dog Import Form receipt, which is filled out by your veterinarian, and then endorsed by an Official Government Veterinarian.

Additional documentation is required based on the country of origin and where they have been for the six months prior to entry. The screening is dependent on the dog’s country of origin, with countries classified as high-risk and others as low.

Luckily, Canada is a low-risk country so requirements are not as strenuous.
Dogs arriving from Canada will need to also have one of five authorized pieces of supplementary documentation that confirms the dog’s microchip number, rabies vaccination and health status. 

A complete list of documents required and a travel checklist with timelines is available on the CDC website. The CDC also offers an online service called DogBot to help you find exactly what you need to travel.

If you are thinking about travelling to the States, please take a look at this now. The checklist advises to start getting all your documentation together at least 60 days prior to travel. 

Aug. 1 is a little more than 70 days away and it can be difficult to get quick appointments with your vet. 

There are also a limited number of official government veterinarians, so increased demand for endorsements could cause delays. Do your research now so you and your dog can enjoy your vacations without any stress at the border.

Dr. Courtney Andrews is a veterinarian at Lockerby Animal Hospital, a graduate of the Royal School of Veterinary Studies and dog mom to Argyll and Einstein. Animals & Pets is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.

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Dr. Courtney Andrews

About the Author: Dr. Courtney Andrews

Dr. Courtney Andrews is a veterinarian at Lockerby Animal Hospital, a graduate of the Royal School of Veterinary Studies and dog mom to Argyll and Einstein.
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