From Patti Strand
May 14, 2008
Congress Curtails Flow of Foreign Dogs into US
Conferees from the US House and Senate have finally reached agreement on the current Farm Bill. One amendment that was accepted is of special importance to dog enthusiasts and professionals because it would put more stringent health and screening requirements in place for dogs and puppies imported into the US for resale, an issue NAIA has monitored and lobbied for many years. Although the bill may need further clarification down the road to achieve its purpose, this is a critically important first step in ensuring public health, the health of our pets and the vitality of the pet industry in America.
The bill is expected to pass both houses of Congress, and if President Bush vetoes it, as he has indicated he will due to provisions which he considers wasteful, the Senate and House are expected to attempt an override.
This provision has become necessary due to a disturbing dynamic at work that NAIA has been working to inform American pet consumers about. Ironically, campaigns to end pet overpopulation have been so successful that demand for puppies actually outstrips supply in the United States today. The result is that US pet suppliers, both commercial distributors and animal shelters alike, have turned to foreign sources to fill it. A staggering 300,000 dogs were brought into the US in 2006 alone, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and that total may not include the significant number of puppies smuggled in through the black market.
Imported dogs, legal or illegal, typically come from countries without the high level of veterinary medicine found in the US and they displace higher quality American-bred dogs and existing shelter dogs struggling to find homes. Without the new Farm Bill provision, or without enforcement, imported dogs will continue to be a public health threat, exposing Americans to zoonotic (animal-to-human) diseases such as rabies, and exposing the U.S. pet, livestock and wildlife populations to diseases and parasites that they would not contract otherwise.
NAIA favors the language recommended by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians in their Animal Rabies Compendium, namely that: "The movement of dogs for purpose of adoption or sale from areas with dog-to-dog rabies transmission should be prohibited." We think the Farm Bill with its 6 month requirement for puppy imports is a major step in the right direction.
In the meantime, NAIA continues to support the Center for Disease Control's ongoing efforts to develop tougher import regulations, urging their adoption of standards that will protect Americans from sick foreign dogs. You may read NAIA's comment letter here. Enhanced CDC rules, combined with passage of the new Farm Bill, would finally bring our decade-long campaign to address puppy imports to fruition.
We urge you to go to our Farm Bill Action Alert and write your US Senator and Representative today asking them to support the Farm Bill when it comes to the floor.
Please also Make a Donation Today to help NAIA shut down puppy imports and protect healthy pets in America.
For more background and press coverage of this issue, see the following articles:
Thank you for your support!