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  • Writer's pictureElaine Green

Importing Dogs To The USA From High Risk Rabies Countries

There are an estimated 1.6 million dogs imported into the USA each year. Most of this number of dogs are for non-commercial import (family pets). The CDC has strict criteria that must be met to import a dog into the USA.

During the pandemic, the case of rabies found in dogs in 2020 increased significantly compared to all previous years' records. The result of the increase was due to rescue dogs and puppies being bought by owners living in the US purchasing / rescuing the dogs from high-risk rabies countries. High-risk rabies dogs come from second and third-world countries. At the time of the pandemic the demand for pets sourced especially for rescue dogs and puppies. The rescue shelters in high-risk rabies countries were struggling to keep up with the demand and many did not have the rabies vaccine available to administer to the dogs before travel. There was a link made between the rescue shelters and the pet import documents being falsified. The dogs and puppies being imported into the US were found to have falsified rabies vaccine documentation.

The CDC took swift action against the influx of rabies cases by imposing a ban on all pet imports from over 100 high-risk rabies countries. This ban was due to be temporary, however, since it has been brought into place the CDC has seen a dramatic reduction in rabies cases in dogs from pets coming from outside the US and has continued to extend the ban on pet importation from the high-risk rabies countries.

The way around this ban is to apply for a CDC permit. The permit can be for commercial (more than 3 pets traveling at one time) and non-commercial movement. To apply for the permit your pet must be microchipped with an ISO-compatible chip, have been given a rabies vaccination after the microchip was implanted, and finally, have a rabies RNATT test conducted 45 days before travel to ensure your dog does not have rabies.

The permit application is currently taking 8 weeks from submission to granting the permit (April 2023).

Short Cut

There is a quicker way to speed up the process to gain entry into the US!

You must still have a rabies vaccine and the RNATT blood test results but instead of waiting the 8 weeks for the permit, you are able to enter into one of five different quarantine facilities at designated airports. The quarantine sites are located in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington DC, JFK, and Miami. Upon your dogs' flight arrival, they will be collected by the quarantine staff and securely transported to the quarantine facility where they will receive a USA rabies vaccine and vet check. There is no quarantine stay required at JFK, Dulles, or Atlanta airports and your pet can leave the same day (flight arrival time permitting) from these facilities.

There are certain criteria that must be met to enter one of the 5 US quarantine facilities including the use of a customs broker. There is also a cost associated with each facility which varies from $750 - $1,600 depending on the importing airport you choose. It is advised to engage a pet relocation agent such as ourselves for the process.


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