By Dr. Steph Black
Many of us welcome the new dog importation laws with a sigh of relief knowing that it is a small step towards avoiding future atrocities like that seen in June 2020. In June of 2020 hundreds of puppies arrived from the Ukraine, some dead and many others very ill.1 This prompted the CFIA to investigate their importation rules and adjust them to protect future lives. For more detail, you can view a summary of then and now importation requirements. https://inspection.canada.ca/animal-health/terrestrial-animals/imports/fact-sheet/eng/1620070961994/1620070962447
Many people are wondering how this may affect animal shelters. With the widespread increase in adoptions and decreased supply of our canine friends, shelters are turning to other countries to import dogs to adopt out. These importation partnerships help to reduce overpopulation in other countries while fulfilling demand for canine companions in our own community.
The rules that came into effect in May only apply to importation of dogs that are 8 months of age or less. If your organization is only importing adult dogs there are currently no changes that are required by law.2 However, if you are importing dogs less than 8 months, read on to learn more.
These changes are a start in the right direction. They are limited in that they only affect dogs under 8 months which is a subset of the population that is being imported. However, now that only single entry import permits are being used, these numbers will give us some indication of the number of dogs actually entering Canada every year for commercial use.2, 3
Many shelters are very responsible about importation of dogs. They are cognizant of the diseases these animals may have and mitigate the risks of bringing these animals into Ontario. Although it is always good practice, these new rules now require treatment for internal and external parasites before departure.3 A broad spectrum product(s) must be licensed and approved for this use in the country of origin and must have been administered within 7 days of export to Canada.4
Also, to reduce importation of exotic diseases, importers that bring in dogs by air are required to have a quarantine facility that has been pre-approved by the CFIA in case the animals require further inspection or quarantine. For more information about the criteria for these quarantine facilities, please see https://inspection.canada.ca/animal-health/terrestrial-animals/imports/import-policies/live-animals/commercial-dogs-less-than-8-months/eng/1620147749836/1620147750461.
Dogs also now require a rabies vaccination at least 28 days before export to Canada.2 This means that we will no longer be able to import young puppies from any country. Dogs are not able to arrive prior to 16 weeks of age since the minimum age for a rabies vaccine is 12 weeks. Requirements also vary from country to country – to import dogs under 8 months from the US, for example, Canadian shelters have needed to have a commercial import permit for some time now, and in practical terms, transfer of pups < 8 months from the US may just not be feasible.
Ensuring animals are vaccinated for rabies, treated for parasites and have suitable quarantine and tracking in place is a great first step at protecting vulnerable young dogs. I expect with time the CFIA may extend some of these rules to the older canine population, but only time will tell.
- Seglines, D. and C. Thomas (2020) Officials probe arrival of 500 puppies, 38 of them dead, aboard flight from Ukraine. CBC. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ukraine-flight-puppies-1.5620691
- Government of Canada (2021) Fact sheet: Then and now – Summary of changes to the import requirements for commercial dogs less than 8 months of age for breeding and resale (which includes adoption) end uses. Retrieved from https://inspection.canada.ca/animal-health/terrestrial-animals/imports/fact-sheet/eng/1620070961994/1620070962447
- Weese, S. (2021) New Canadian Dog Importation Rules Worms and Germs Blog Promoting Reponsible Pet Ownership. Retrieved from: https://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/2021/05/articles/animals/dogs/new-canadian-dog-importation-rules/
- Email communication with email@example.com June 18, 2021