The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has announced that it is banning “commercial dogs” from more than 100 countries from entering the True North.
Tuesday, the CFIA said this measure will come into effect on September 28, World Rabies Day, but all import permits issued on or after June 28 will expire on September 27.
“Commercial dogs may include, but are not limited to, dogs for resale, adoption, placement, breeding, show or exhibition, research and d ‘other purposes,’ the agency said. This definition includes rescue dogs.
This measure is intended to protect Canadians and their pets from the risk of canine rabies.
Animal rights activists and rescue shelter workers are concerned about how this will affect vulnerable dogs in countries with highly lethal shelter and dog killing practices. Many stray animals live on the streets, exposed to the elements and at risk of disease and death.
Dozens of Canadian shelters work with other countries to import adoptable dogs in need of rescue and care. This ban will put an end to their operations entirely.
“It is shocking that the CFIA did not consult with the dog rescue community before implementing this sweeping ban, which could force many organizations to close,” said Roxanne Yanofsky, director of Save A Friend, who saves dogs from Columbia.
A petition to overturn this ban was filed by Animal Justice, another organization run by a team of lawyers and advocates fighting for better legal protection for animals in the country.
Currently, Canada has no active cases of canine rabies, which is different from the strain found in raccoons, bats and other wildlife. Dogs with canine rabies were carriers of the disease when they arrived in Canada last year. This was a public health risk and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) warned of the dangers of such imports.
“The importation of a single rabid dog could result in transmission to humans, pets and wildlife,” the CFIA said, adding that those who contract it have only a 1% chance of survival.
Countries at high risk for canine rabies include Ukraine, Brazil, India, Egypt, Peru, Haiti, and the United Arab Emirates, among others. The complete list is available here.
Earlier this month, a plane arrived in Toronto from Ukraine carrying 500 puppies in its cargo. The CFIA told the Daily Hive that 38 of them died during the flight and several others were in critical condition.
Last year, hundreds of dogs were rescued from South Korea’s dog meat industry and brought to Canada to be adopted into loving homes.
The CFIA is working with PHAC, the Canada Border Services Agency and other government partners to implement this new policy.
The food agency said it will “explore options to further strengthen requirements for the importation of personal pet dogs and assistance dogs from these countries”.