We, the undersigned groups, write today to strongly urge your Committees to provide $1 million to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to strengthen the federal oversight of imported canines in the FY 2023 Agriculture Appropriations bill. At the request of Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2019 issued a study that determined over one million dogs are imported into the U.S. annually, but less than one percent of those animals undergo an adequate health screening to ensure they are healthy enough to travel and free of disease and parasites before entering the country.
In the absence of proper health requirements, imported dogs have been responsible for the introduction and transmission of diseases and pests into the U.S., including rabies, canine influenza, leptospirosis, melioidosis, onchocerosis and screwworm. There is also a growing concern that imported dogs and even their crates and bedding could transfer a foreign animal disease that will devastate the U.S. livestock industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on June 14, 2021, that they would temporarily suspend dog imports from over 100 countries to protect the public health against the reintroduction of canine rabies virus variant (CRVV) into the United States and to ensure the welfare of dogs being imported into the U.S. On August 4, 2021, USDA announced strengthened import requirements on certain dogs imported from countries where African Swine Fever is present. Unfortunately, these actions are temporary, and they apply to less than 10 percent of dogs imported into the U.S.
According to CDC, 6 out of every 10 known human infectious diseases, including 75 percent of new diseases discovered in the last decade, are zoonotic in origin. Despite this, the U.S. lacks even the most basic health requirements such as proper veterinary care prior to transporting a canine, appropriate identification and vaccination of dogs before arrival in the U.S., and strong coordination between the federal agencies that oversee animal and public health. We respectfully request your Committees provide USDA the critical resources needed to protect pets, livestock, and U.S. public health through stronger oversight of imported dogs.
American Kennel Club
American Sheep Industry Association
American Veterinary Medical Association
International Pet and Animal Transportation Association
Master of Foxhounds Association of America
National Animal Interest Alliance
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
National Pork Producers Council
Pet Food Institute
Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council
World Pet Association