New Rules Bring Rescues In While Keeping Rabies Out

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

Centers for Disease Control has some big news for anyone wanting to bring that cute little rescue home to the US.

Photo Credit: Tanya_Terekhina /

In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) introduced a rather lengthy roster of countries – including Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turkey, and Vietnam - from where dogs in desperate need of rescue were not permitted.

Why? Because these countries were high risk when it came to rabies. They simply didn’t have it under control and the concerns were legitimate that pooches coming from these countries may be bringing the dread disease back to America. . You see, vaccines eliminated rabies back in the 1970s. But since 2015, the proverbial alarm was raised when a few "imports" tested positive. And I think we can all agree that while we love the thought of saving pooches in need, it can’t be at the peril of other animals they may come in contact with during travel or after rehoming.

Today, there is no cure for this devastating disease and those bitten or simply scratched by an infected critter are at high risk of contracting this deadly condition that decimates the central nervous system.

But a revamp of these regulations is due to go into effect on August 1st, 2024 and it is a cautious update to the temporary ban introduced back in 2021 that completely forbade the importation of dogs from a whopping 107 countries.

With these new rules, dogs may now be brought into the United States from countries where rabies is still a common concern, however the minimum age is six months. And they must be accompanied by documentation that proves they have had their necessary vaccinations. For the die-hard globetrotter, be aware that these new requirements include dogs returning to the United States after travelling abroad – not just those imported through rescue organizations.

Now, the six-month guideline reflects the age at which a dog can effectively receive the necessary vaccinations and it should come as no surprise that CDC is not taking the owner’s word for it. Yes, an extra safeguarding measure was added that can instantly match the travelling pooch with their rabies verification documents. How? The dog must be microchipped with an International Standards Organization (ISO)-compatible microchip. It’s the chip that will verify the dog presented at customs, is in fact the same one that got his jabs before he headed off to the airport.

And this verification of the animal’s vaccinations must be confirmed by official government veterinarians in the country of export, to help deter fraud.

Angela Passman, a Board member of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA), confirms it can be tricky for individuals to fall in love with, adopt, and then ship a rescue dog home to the United States, but the new rules don’t necessarily make the process any more difficult. It’s work for the pet owner, but she feels the end goal and safety factor make it the right approach.

While some animal rescue operations argue that it is a costly, time-consuming process, the CDC stands firm in its commitment to eradicate rabies once again. Something most pet owners can get on board with.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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