Do Imported Rescue Dogs Pose Threat to Livestock Industry?

Each year, several thousand dogs enter the U.S. for resale or adoption. In a recent Hogs on the Hill article, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) chief veterinarian Liz Wagstrom wrote that it’s time to sound the alarm on importing rescue dogs.

Why? Increasingly rescue dogs are being imported from countries where foreign animal diseases (FADs) such as African swine fever (ASF) are present. As the U.S. devotes funding and increases efforts to protect U.S. borders from possible threats that could harm our country, she explained this largely unknown FAD risk must be addressed to protect U.S. livestock and agriculture from FADs.

“While the dogs are not known to be susceptible to or carry FADs, there is the potential for bedding, crates or contamination of the dogs’ coats to serve as disease carriers. As a veterinarian, and a dog owner, this potential is alarming,” Wagstrom wrote.

Some of these dogs entering the U.S. may have been rescued from wet markets, while others from operations which raise dogs expressly for export. All it takes is one of these animals carrying an FAD into the country to put the U.S. swine herd and other livestock in jeopardy. Wagstrom wrote this could have disastrous consequences for our nation’s agriculture sector.

This risk is compounded because although both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the USDA have separate and distinct responsibilities over the importation of dogs, there is no single federal agency with comprehensive oversight of the issue, she added. There is also not a central federal website to apply for an import permit to bring dogs for sale or adoption into the country.

“A solution is within our grasp,” Wagstrom wrote. “USDA, under the Animal Health Protection Act, has the authority to develop rules for the safe importation of dogs from FAD-positive countries to protect the livestock industry. NPPC looks forward to continuing to work with the agency to ensure U.S. pork producers and our nation remains safe and protected from devastating FAD outbreaks.”

More from Farm Journal's PORK: 

It’s Time for a Better Approach for Disease Surveillance

African Swine Fever in China: A Truth Somewhere in Between, Vilsack Says

Will TADD Process Inactivate ASF Virus in Transport Trailers?


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