Upcoming federal import rules ban dog-import from select countries ‘devastating’ to Calgary dog rescue groups

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Animal rescue groups that find Calgary foster placements and without end homes for dogs from international countries say a latest federal ban importing dogs from an inventory of nations as a control measure against rabies unfairly hurts groups attempting to help dogs.

“It is a death sentence for them,” said Belinda Morrison, found of CB Rescue Foundation.

As of Sep. 28, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is banning the import of dogs from an inventory of greater than 100 countries from all over the world.

Industrial dogs from countries at high risk for dog rabies is not going to be allowed to enter the country and permits will not be issued.

The CFIA defines ‘business’ as dogs intended for resale, adoption, breeding, show or exhibition, and research.

“The CFIA consulted with public health authorities regarding the human health risk and it was determined to be significant enough to warrant the implementation of a measure that stops the introduction into Canada of the rabies brought on by canine variant viruses,” said the CFIA in an e-mailed statement sent to CTV News on Tuesday.

Morrison’s rescue arranges transport for dogs from quite a few countries, including the Dominican Republic which is on the list of banned nation.

She said stricter protocols to import dogs for rescue groups can be welcomed, but was critical of the announcement from the CFIA.

“The difficulty is that they don’t need the rabies in Canada. Neither do I. I do not know a rescue that does. We would like to bring healthy dogs into Canada,” she said.

Morrison said Canada already requires a compulsory rabies vaccination for rescue animals into Canada, adding that a compulsory quarantine period of at the very least 30 days can be a greater control measure than an outright ban.

One rescue animal owner said it breaks her heart to think that one other dog similar to the one imported by CB Rescue Foundation from the Dominican Republic won’t have a likelihood for a latest life in Canada.

“I’m a real believer in changing these dogs’ lives one after the other and we won’t do this (when) this ban comes into place. Why do these dogs need to suffer for this reason? There must be a way around it,” said Alana Lemckert.

“Its devastating for rescuers, these animals could have nowhere to go,” said Rory O’Neill, director of Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue, adding she and others are beyond upset a couple of “horrible government decision.”

Her colleague, Teri Harder, told CTV News she was hopeful that there might be some flexibility to get the foundations modified, or offer a workaround for rescue groups.

“It is a death warrant for (the dogs,” said Harder before adding, “If we won’t help them and convey some here, they are going to die.”

The CFIA said dog rabies circulates amongst dogs more easily within the 100+ countries listed due to inadequate access to public health resources and preventative treatment.

“The importation of even one rabid dog could end in transmission to Canadian humans, pets, and wildlife. Lately, business dog imports have increased by 400 per cent. Shipments of dogs arriving from countries with widespread dog rabies pose a high risk of introducing this disease in Canada,” said the CFIA.

Future regulatory amendments are possible, because the CFIA said it would meet with stakeholders to contemplate “further and alternate risk control measures.”

Those stakeholders include the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, air carries, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, infectious disease experts, and animal welfare interest groups.

Morrison said she’s been working with a lawyer in Toronto, and hopes for a seat on the table for those discussions.