First of all, let’s all look at those puppies there on the left. Don’t they look like they’re from a really adorable puppy version of The Shining? Maybe The Barking? Anyway, those puppies* are unrelated to this story: The United States Department of Agriculture has a new rule banning the importation of puppies that are too young or sickly to be coming into the country.
According to a press release from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the prohibition on importing underage, sick dogs was included in the 2008 amendment to the Animal Welfare Act, but it hasn’t been enforced until now.
The rule says that all foreign breeders have to prove that each dog is in good health — though it’s unclear what body would oversee a certification, perhaps the USDA itself, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? — and has had all the right shots and vaccinations. It also has to be at least six months old.
It’s important to note that this is meant for businesses or people that sell dogs in the commercial pet trade, and won’t keep individuals from transporting their own pets. So apparently if you go to another country and buy a pet, you’d only be subject to the CDC’s current rules regarding importation of dogs:
“CDC does not require a health certificate for dogs to be imported into the United States, although some airlines or states may require them. However, dogs must be healthy upon arrival and be vaccinated against rabies. Dogs may be denied entry if they look like they are sick with a communicable disease or if proof of a valid rabies vaccination is not provided. If a dog appears to be sick at the port of entry, further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the dog owner’s expense might be required.”
The ASPCA says it sees this all as a good thing that strikes a blow at the global puppy mill industry.
“Every year, thousands of puppies are brought into the United States from foreign countries, even though they may be too sick or young to endure the transport,” said Deborah Press, senior regulatory affairs manager for the ASPCA in the press release. “With this new rule, the USDA has taken significant steps towards ensuring that the United States is not importing sick puppies and supporting animal cruelty in puppy mills overseas.”
*I want to be clear: I would dearly love to snorgle those puppies and I don’t care how that sounds. It is a fact.