Updates and Information for Dog Enthusiasts Regarding the CDC’s New Dog Import Rule

This is a developing story, and we encourage our listeners to do their research before making any decisions. As dog trainers that work with clients around the country and as dog mushers and the owners of Mushing Magazine, the Center for Disease Control’s New Dog Import Rule is the talk among dog enthusiasts, and we wanted to give you the latest update as of the end of June 2024. It is our understanding that the Canadian government is looking into this as we speak, as well and may warrant further updates.

Thanks to the American Kennel Club and the Dog Writers Association of America for information on this story. The American Kennel Club Government Relations (AKC GR) staff have met with staff of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and key members of Congress to discuss the CDC’s recently finalized rule on the importation of dogs.  AKC continues to be concerned with the disproportionate impact of the new rule on low-risk importations and shares in the concerns of fanciers and breeders who regularly cross the U.S.-Canadian border for canine event participation, veterinary care, and breeder collaboration. 

Nevertheless, AKC believes the most efficient means of achieving additional regulatory change is by working with CDC staff to share concerns, keeping members of Congress informed, and helping craft solutions to address the problems.  AKC sincerely thanks CDC and Congressional staff for their time and consideration of these concerns. Click here to learn what you can do.

Because of the amount and volume of concern shared by dog owners or other importers (like professional handlers) who regularly cross the U.S.-Canadian border, CDC staff summarized what will be needed to import a dog from Canada (and any other canine rabies-free or low-risk country):

  • The dog must be at least six months old;
  • The dog must have an ISO-compatible microchip;
  • CDC Dog Import Form (See more below.)
  • A government-endorsed written form documenting that the dog has resided or otherwise been only in countries that are classified as free of canine rabies or low-risk for canine rabies.
  • Dog must appear healthy upon arrival.


About the CDC Dog Import Form

Much worry has been shared with AKC and CDC about the CDC Dog Import Form, particularly since it has not been made publicly available.  CDC staff explained that the form appears like another form they currently use, and they remain concerned that releasing it will create confusion about what form is needed on what date.  CDC plans to release the new form in mid-July to reduce the chances of confusion best and allow access for upcoming importations.

CDC staff made several points about its new Dog Import Form:

  • There is no cost for submitting the form.
  • The form will take approximately five minutes to complete.
  • A completed form/receipt may be printed or available on a mobile device.
  • A photo of the dog to be imported is required in the form.
  • The dog’s microchip number is also a necessary part of the form.
  • The form must include where the dog will cross into the United States, which can be any airport, land border crossing, or seaport.
  • A successfully submitted form is valid throughout the day it is submitted for. Submitting multiple forms will not be required in cases of multiple land border crossings in a day.
  • To complete the importation, a dog must arrive at the location listed on the Dog Import Form receipt.

CDC staff also emphasized that the Dog Import Form will be used to learn the number of dogs imported into the United States.  This is of great importance, as the actual number of importations has only been estimated in the past.  Additionally, the form will help CDC understand additional regulatory needs and possible future exceptions to the new rule.

About Government-Issued Documentation That a Dog Has Only Been in Canine Rabies-Free or Low-Risk Countries

CDC emphasized that several forms that may be submitted may be valid for the same time that a dog’s rabies vaccination is valid (i.e., in the case of three-year vaccines, during that three years).  In such cases, owners will not need to complete a new form or health checks for importation during that time as long as the original form is provided upon entry and the dog has only been in rabies-free or low-risk countries.   These forms include:

  • The Certification of U.S.-Issued Rabies Vaccination (for live dog re-entry into the United States): This form must be completed by a USDA-accredited veterinarian before the dog initially leaves the United States.
  • A valid USDA-endorsed export health certificate that documents the dog’s age (at least six months) and microchip number. If the certificate documents a valid (unexpired) rabies vaccination given in the U.S., this form will be valid for the duration of the rabies vaccination (1-3 years).
    • If the certificate does not contain rabies vaccination information, it must list the rabies-free or low-risk country from which the dog is returning. Under this circumstance, the certificate will only be valid for 30 days.
  • For dogs that do not have either of the above, the Certification of Dog Arriving from DMRVV-free or Low-risk Country form (instructions) may be the most convenient option for Canadian owners and fanciers. If it contains information about the rabies vaccination administered in a rabies-free or low-risk country, this form will be valid for multiple entries into the U.S. for the duration the rabies vaccination is valid (1-3 years).
    • If this form does not contain rabies vaccination information, it will be valid for a single entry into the U.S. and only for the 30 days after the form was issued.

AKC Reiterated Strong Concerns with the Increase in the Minimum Age for Importation

AKC staff challenged the increase in the minimum age at which a dog may be imported.  AKC suggested that there is real value in allowing the importation of puppies at four months of age if they are fully vaccinated and have only been in a rabies-free or low-risk country.  These benefits include puppies bonding with new owners, training, and veterinary care.  AKC reiterated that allowing the importation of these personally owned puppies (still permitted until August 1, 2024) has not proved to present an increased risk of disease introduction or transmission.

CDC staff noted AKC’s concerns.  CDC also spoke to two importation problems it continues to deal with:  Unscrupulous importers that try to falsify health paperwork (which they continue to see attempted daily) and that it currently has no way to distinguish the importation of personally owned dogs from the importation of dogs imported for commercial reasons.  However, the CDC also expressed its openness to hearing ideas on adjustments to the rule that may be needed and recognized that more issues may need to be discussed.

The new import/entry requirements will go into effect as scheduled on August 1, 2024. However, respectful communication with the CDC and your members of Congress will play an essential role in potential future exceptions or enforcement flexibility. 

The best source for the latest information from CDC on dog importation is the CDC’s online resources at www.cdc.gov/dogtravel.  CDC staff may be reached at (404) 498-1600, or at cdcanimalimports@cdc.gov.

As new information is made available, Dog Works Radio and Mushing Magazine will continue to provide updates on how the new importation rule will be enforced.  Please subscribe to both podcasts for up-to-date information.

Did you know that at Alaska Dog Works we offer a FREE Discovery call to see if we are a good fit to work together with you dog. We even offer virtual dog training classes. Did you know that delivering a class online can be more effective than in person? Why? Because we can use the power of many multi-media tools like community, video, and podcasts that will help you reach your goals. It works.

So, what do you think? Did you learn anything new about your K9 buddy?

Before we end the show, let’s press pause for a sec…maybe ask yourself, why did this resonate with me? What aspect of my relationship with my K9 buddy could I apply this to? And what am I going to do differently this week to make my dog’s training a little easier? So, take time to mull it over, talk it out with a family member or trusted friend, put some ideas down in your training journal, and then check back next week for our next episode.

And, as always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this episode. So, reach out over on X at firstpawmedia, and let’s spark a conversation. Until then, keep going! You are doing great! It is time to create the relationship with your dog that you always dreamed of.

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