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Legislative Action Center

U.S. Congress: Ask Your Federal Reps to Sponsor the Healthy Dog Importation Act
The American Kennel Club is concerned about the health and wellbeing of all dogs, and works hard to advocate for laws that protect canine health and wellbeing and the rights of responsible dog owners. 

We are reaching out to you because your Congressional representative or Senator is a member of the powerful Agriculture or Appropriations Committee and needs to hear of your support for the Healthy Dog Importation Act (HDIA), H.R 4239/S.2597

In 2019 alone, approximately 1 million dogs were imported into the United States, many without adequate health checks or valid health certificates. Lax and difficult-to-enforce regulations have resulted in the recent import of dogs carrying dangerous non-native parasites and zoonotic diseases such as rabies, viral infections, canine influenza, brucellosis and others.    

The problem has become sufficiently troublesome that in July, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) placed a ban on the import of dogs from more than 100 countries.   

The Healthy Dog Importation Act offers a valuable solution to addressing a potential public health crisis caused by unbridled imports of potentially unhealthy dogs. By focusing on the health status of all dogs for import rather than on country of origin, it can also serve as an alternative to inefficient one-size-fits all bans like the current CDC ban. But to make this happen, we need you to contact your Congressional Representative and U.S. Senator to ask them to sponsor the Healthy Dog Importation Act.   

Scroll down for instructions and contact information. 

Background and Bill Summary:

The American Kennel Club recognizes the value of importing select, healthy dogs from overseas, freedom of choice in choosing a pet, and ensuring that people may travel with their pets with a minimum of disruption. 

However, we are also concerned about the increasing documented incidences of the importation of unhealthy random-source pets, particularly for transfer, where public and pet health may be inadequately protected. 

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 1.25 million dogs are imported into the U.S. annually. Many of these dogs are coming in without valid health certificates –and many of them are carrying contagious zoonotic diseases. Exponential growth in dog imports from a wide range of overseas sources has resulted in recent incidents of dogs with non-native parasites and zoonotic diseases such as rabies, viral infections, canine influenza, brucellosis and others, being imported and passed onto the general publicCurrent pet import oversight mechanisms established prior to the exponential growth of imports are unable to protect against this public and animal health threat.


The Healthy Dog Importation Act would address these significant concerns by providing additional tools to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to prevent the import of unhealthy animals, while continuing to allow imports of healthy dogs. 

Key provisions of the measure: 

  • Provide authority to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to determine which vaccinations and other health information is required for entry of dogs into the U.S. This authority will be carried out by USDA’s Veterinary Services (VS) division.
  • Require every dog entering the U.S. to be accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection (health certificate), issued by a licensed veterinarian accredited by a competent veterinary authority recognized by the Secretary. The health certificate must certify that the dog has received all required vaccinations and demonstrated negative test results.
  • Require submission of health certificates to USDA, which will maintain a centralized, publicly available data base. Required documentation may be submitted electronically. All submitted information will be made available to the secretaries of Health and Human Services (CDC), Commerce, and Homeland Security (CBP) to promote interagency coordination and facilitate verification upon arrival in the U.S. Required documentation may be submitted electronically
  • Require permanent identification of all dogs imported.
  • Allow the Secretary of Agriculture to set fees for the issuance of importation permits to help offset costs for increased monitoring and oversight.

What You Can Do:

AKC strongly encourages all dog owners individually, as well as clubs, to contact their member of Congress and Senators and ask them to support the Healthy Dog Importation Act.  Let them know this is a bipartisan, common sense solution to address a significant public health threat for both pets and the people who care for them. 

For additional talking points and information, review the following:

Use the form provided to directly contact your Member of Congress, or visit the AKC Legislative Action Center (www.akcgr.org) and type your zip code in the “Find Officials” box to get your member of Congress and Senators names and contact information.  

AKC Government Relations will continue to provide updates as they are available.  For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at doglaw@akc.org

We thank YOU for helping to make a difference for the future of our breeds, and the health of all dogs.   

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