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Abraham Introduces Healthy Dog Importation Act to Protect Animal and Public Health

May 19, 2020
Press Release
Bill Would Improve Oversight of Canine Imports to Better Protect Animal and Public Health

WASHINGTON - On Tuesday, May 19, Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, a veterinarian and medical doctor, introduced the Healthy Dog Importation Act to ensure that all dogs entering the U.S. do not pose a health risk to Americans.
 
Under current law, the importation of canines is overseen by both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). These federal agencies estimate that over one million dogs are imported into the U.S. each year. However, only about one percent of those are screened for diseases such as rabies, influenza, hepatitis, distemper, and others. This poses a serious health threat not just to other dogs and household pets, but to our livestock and food supply.

From Congressman Ralph Abraham:

“Many of these dogs are coming from places like China and Brazil that don’t have good track records on public and animal health," said Dr. Abraham. "In light of the current health issues our country faces, it is important that we don’t import infectious diseases from animals that could have a devastating impact on food supply and our health as Americans. The Healthy Dog Importation Act is a common sense public health measure, and as a veterinarian, I’m proud to introduce this bill alongside Congressman Yoho and Congressman Schrader.”

From Patti Strand, President of National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA):
 
"The National Animal Interest Alliance commends Representatives Abraham, Yoho, and Schrader for their continued leadership in addressing the gaps in regulatory authority over dog imports and commitment to strengthening oversight at the federal level," said Patti Strand, President of the National Animal Interest Alliance. "Given the current lack of oversight and minimal screening requirements, infectious diseases and parasites have arrived in the U.S. via imported dogs. The Healthy Dog Importation Act of 2020 will streamline the federal oversight of canine imports to better protect animal and public health." 
 
From Dennis Sprung, President and CEO of the American Kennel Club (AKC):
 
"AKC is grateful for Representative Abraham's  leadership  in sponsoring  the Healthy Dog Importation Act. In the last several years, zoonotic diseases such as rabies, canine influenza and distemper have been carried into the U.S. by dogs imported without basic veterinary checks or valid health certificates. With an estimated one million dogs entering the U.S. annually, this represents a ticking time bomb for animal and public health," said Dennis Sprung, President and CEO of the American Kennel Club. "The basic health certifications that this bill requires for every dog imported will protect the health and wellbeing of all dogs in our nation  - and the humans  who care for them."  
 
From Dr. John Howe, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA):
 
“For far too long, dogs have been entering the United States without proper inspection, increasing the risk of disease introduction and transmission,” said Dr. John Howe, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “We commend veterinarian Reps. Abraham, Schrader and Yoho, for introducing common sense legislation that would establish health and vaccination requirements for dogs imported into the U.S. The Healthy Dog Importation Act protects animal and human health by ensuring that imported dogs are healthy and free from disease and parasites before entering the United States.”

The Healthy Dog Importation Act would require every dog entering the country to be permanently identified, in good health, and certified by a licensed veterinarian that it has received all the proper vaccinations. Those entering the country for resale, transfer, or donation must be at least six months of age and accompanied by a USDA import permit. The bill would also streamline federal oversight, ensuring documentation and import permits are shared electronically between APHIS, CDC, and Customs and Border Patrol, while clarifying APHIS' key enforcement authority. These changes will help to ensure that the federal government is responsibly screening the large number of dogs entering our country each year, and that we are not encouraging the spread of infectious diseases in the U.S. 

The text of the Healthy Dog Importation Act is available here.