CDC implementing draconian rabies rules


To the alarm of local dog owners,  the CDC will be implementing new rules about bringing dogs into the U.S. by land, sea or air from anywhere in the world. This will include U.S. residents returning from travel to Canada and Mexico with their pooch in their car, boat or RV. It will also apply to non-U.S. citizens traveling to the U.S. to visit their cabins or for tourism.

Beginning August 1, new import rules will require dogs to be over 6 months old, be micro-chipped and carry a valid certificate showing the dog has been vaccinated for rabies, and have a completed CDC Dog Import Form. No dogs under six months can enter the country.

Both Canada and Mexico are considered rabies-free by the CDC and have been for years. Previously, dogs under the age of six months were exempt from the requirement that they be inoculated for rabies.

The CDC originally proposed keeping that exemption to reduce the burden on U.S. travelers who frequently travel across the U.S.’s borders with Canada and Mexico, but removed it in order “to create a uniform standard for all dogs,” among other reasons.

Amanda Wyma-Bradley of Senator Patti Murray’s office has been forwarding letters from concerned dog owners to the CDC, letting the agency know of the challenges the new rules impose on frequent border crossers.

In a response to a comment made during the rule-making process that the owner of a dog is not “importing” a dog when they cross the border, the CDC said dogs are considered goods and thus are treated as imports like any other goods. In fact, most of the reasons for these new rules appear intended toward the commercial importation of dogs and not pet owners. There is no indication that the CDC considered the plight of border communities across the country nor special cases such as Point Roberts, the NW Angle or Hyder, Alaska, each of which require residents and visitors to travel through Canada to access the rest of the U.S. In 2022, 60 percent of Canadian households have one or more goods that either bark or meow. In all, Canadians have 7.9 million dogs and that number is growing.

How much of an actual problem is rabies? Well, if a human gets bitten by an animal carrying the virus and doesn’t seek help before symptoms appear, it is almost always fatal.

How common is it for people in the U.S. to get rabies? Not common at all. According to the CDC, in the 58-year stretch from 1960 to 2018, there were just 127 cases for an average of 2.1 cases per year. One-quarter of those cases came from dog bites during international travel and about 70 percent were from a bat bite.

Caitlynn Paradis is a certified public accountant who lives in Chilliwack, B.C. and travels to the U.S. a minimum of three times per month for shopping, veterinary visits and to attend dog shows. She wrote to mayors of cities along the border including Blaine, Sumas, Lynden and Ferndale warning them of the upcoming rules.

“Is there anything that can be done?” she asked. “This is only going to harm the economy of those in border towns especially when most of them are still recovering from the border shutdowns during the pandemic.”


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