From 14th July 2021 the USA has imposed a temporary, 1-year ban on importing dogs from over 113 countries deemed as high-risk countries for rabies.

The CDC has explained the ban being due to a high number of puppies carrying fraudulent paperwork representing their age and vaccine status. In puppies under 4 months, the rabies vaccine cannot take full effect, and allowing entry to younger puppies posses a risk. The USA has been rabies free thanks to vaccinations since the 1970’s. In 1988 a new type of rabies infiltrated America from Mexico by infecting wild coyotes and it took 19 years to eliminate. Rabies is a terrible disease that affects both animals and humans. It is usually spread from bites and scratches from infected animals and there is no cure once the diseas begins it’s devastating effects on the nervous system.

The shocking news was only announced one month before the ban came into affect. No one would have predicted such a severe rule change as all dogs going into America legally had to have an up to date vaccine booklet, including proof of recent rabies vaccination and a passed blood test, known as a titer test, to prove they were rabies free. With just 30 days from the announcement to the law going live, thousands of adopted dogs are now stuck as they weren’t flight-ready within the time frame.

When covid hit in early 2020 a huge number of people were forced to return to their home country from living abroad. Embassies called for quick evacuation and visas suddenly could not be renewed through border runs or other extensions. The process for readying an animal to move to a different country is a lengthy one that usually takes around 3 months to complete. Vaccinations, blood tests, and correct documentation all need to be up to standard and travel arrangements must be secured. I don’t think anyone expected the awful effecs of Covid19 to last as long as they have and for travel to be restricted for so long. Many Americans that left their animals abroad soon realised that the only way to be reunited with their beloved pets was to import them. We personally saw flight-volunteer forums flooded with requests to help reunite owner with pet. In the year or so since Covid closed borders we have seen thousands of animals make it to their new homes globally, but we also saw many accounts of people still saving the money to get their pet imported, and now countless Americans who were so close, have had their family reunion dreams taken away.

And then there are the numerous sancturies across these 100+ high risk countries, of which Thailand is one. For rescue institutes like ours the law passed in America was a swift blow. Adoptions had certainly slowed down without volunteers meeting the dogs, however, we, along with many more sanctuaries, had adoptions in the pipeline. For one family, the adoption process was almost finished; tests had been paid for, paperwork completed, and even a dog bed and toy baskets set up ready in the home in America while a flight volunteer was being arranged. The sudden passing of this ban has brought this adoption to a halt. And how many more people and animals share this story? Heartbroken families, dogs missing out on their forever homes, complicated financial situations between owners and charities.. 

The CDC reported 450 cases of imported dogs having fraudelent vaccination paperwork in 2020, a 52% increase from the previous two years. Dr. Emily Pieracci, a rabies expert working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mentions the rush to adopt ‘pandemic puppies’ in 2020 as a possible explaination for this rise in counterfeit documentation. For the most accurate updates and new information please refer to the CDC’s website. It may be worth noting for some that dogs are likely to be allowed entry to the USA if they haver first spent 6 months in a country NOT marked as high-risk for rabies directly before entering.

We are patiently waiting for any and all updates on this news. We remain hopefuly that the CDC will reveiw the ban before the 1 year time frame but as for now it is out of our control. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, or sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop, and if this subject is one you are passionate about, please consider donating rabies vaccines to us to have a direct impact on the safety and wellness of Sangkhlaburi’s animals.

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