No Dogs Left Behind (NDLB), a global animal rescue organization, is addressing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) proclamation on Monday that it will issue a temporary ban on the importation of dogs from over 100 designated high risk countries, including (but not limited to) China, Russia, Vietnam, Columbia, and the Dominican Republic. The ban is set to go into effect on July 14, 2021.
The CDC has stated in internal emails and communications that it is banning the importation of dogs from designated high risk rabies countries for at least a year because of a sharp increase in the number of puppies imported into the country with fraudulent rabies vaccination certificates. This issue, according to the CDC, is one of public safety for both the dogs and the public’s health. But this declaration of a total ban on importing dogs from 113 countries to achieve this goal is overly broad and fails to meet the narrowly tailored requirement for administrative agency determinations. While well intended, this ban is overreaching and will cause more harm than good for millions of domesticated dogs all over the world.
To be clear, NDLB agrees with the CDC that implementation of any and all safeguards necessary to protect humans and dogs from rabies is paramount. NDLB and all reputable rescue organizations take the issue of rabies and all infectious diseases very seriously. NDLB is on the front lines in East Asia every day fighting to save dogs from extreme torture and reckless slaughter. All of the dogs rescued by NDLB are treated according to strict protocols. “The very first protocol for emergency response of NDLB’s 5 Pillar Approach to Rescue is to fully vaccinate and microchip every dog saved” states Jeffrey Beri, Founder and President of NDL̆B. “We vaccinate for rabies and DHPPI-L, conduct tests for brucellosis and canine distemper and canine parvovirus, and perform complete blood counts and biochemical profiles on all dogs that we rescue, provide sanctuary for, and ultimate adopt into the United States and other countries.” This is all done immediately before moving the dogs to NDLB sanctuaries. “All vaccines are kept up to date, and the paperwork documenting all of this accompanies the dogs to the countries where their adopters are located” notes Beri.
“We work cooperatively with the USDA to ensure our paperwork is correct and the import permit is issued prior to importing dogs into the United States. These safeguards are in place for the benefit of our survivors, our adopters, and all of the humans and dogs in the countries where our dogs go” says Jacqueline Finnegan, Vice President for NDLB. “There are no shortcuts when it comes to public safety.”
With respect to the proposed ban, NDLB notes that there is a way to achieve the goal of protecting people and dogs in the United States from rabies without a wholesale ban on the importation of dogs from 113 countries. For example, like many other countries around the world, the United States could require a valid rabies titer showing adequate immunization of the dog or dog(s) prior to allowing dogs entry. This paperwork can even be pre-screened prior to issuing a dog importation permit so as to avoid the issue of dogs being denied entry and having to be returned back to the countries from which they came. But to ban all dogs -- regardless of age, breed, documentation, or who the importer is -- based solely on the country of export is an overly broad application of a rule that can be narrowly tailored to achieve the same goal.
The CDC has stated that the ban will be reevaluated in a year, and that in the meantime, exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis. Such exceptions, however, are extremely limited and expressly prohibit the ability of any rescue group – even legitimate and recognized 501(c)(3) organizations, to apply for an exception to this ban. The few available exemptions are detailed in instructions by the CDC, and expressly include dogs being imported for science, education and exhibition. Expressly prohibited in these instructions are dogs being imported for other any other purposes, such as adoption, resale, or transfer of ownership. It remains unclear how the articulated goal of public safety can be met by permitting dogs to enter the country for science, education, and exhibition yet not for adoptions. NDLB will be addressing this question with the CDC directly.
Those who applaud the ban, noting that there is no reason for Americans to look overseas for dogs, mistake the fundamental reason why Americans adopt dogs from other countries. “The point of looking oversees for dogs is not to cast our eyes away from domestic dogs here in the US, but instead to rescue dogs from horrific circumstances such as dog meat festivals and slaughterhouses that we are fortunate enough not to have here in the United States” explains Finnegan.
Rescuing dogs from overseas is about saving a dog’s life. It is about taking a stand that the inhuman treatment, torture and reckless slaughtering of man’s best friend is unacceptable and must be addressed in order for change to happen. NDLB fights on the front lines every day, documenting the atrocities, and working tirelessly to treat, rehabilitate and find loving homes for the dogs of the dog meat trade in Asia. A blanket ban on importing dogs of this magnitude will be a catastrophic blow to reputable rescues who have made it their mission to help animals globally. “We will not sit by silently. We will fight for these dogs here in the United States like we fight for them on the front lines in Asia. We are their voice. There is a way to accomplish the goal of the CDC to protect the public without hampering the efforts of hundreds of rescues worldwide. We will fight to make that happen” says Beri.
About No Dogs Left Behind:No Dogs Left Behind operates boots on the ground in China, fighting on the frontlines to rescue dogs from the illegal dogmeat trade. We work hands-on with local activists through emergency response, pulling dogs directly from slaughterhouses, dogmeat trucks, wet markets and traffickers. Our mission extends beyond borders, advocating for the creation and enforcement of animal welfare laws, and raising awareness for a cruelty-free, sustainable world in which no animal is violated, exploited, tortured or slaughtered for commercial goods or profit. With nearly 500 survivors in our care, No Dogs Left Behind operates sanctuaries in Dayi and Gongyi, China.
No Dogs Left Behind