Importation issues, Part 1

FB Post - AzerbaijanA Facebook post was forwarded to me the other day. It reads “Drove to the airport today to pick up this lovely little girl [puppy] who flew all the way to Montreal from Baku Azerbaijan. Spent the afternoon with her romping around in Westmount Park. She will be up for adoption at ____ Animal Society and is seriously cute.”

There are a few issues here. Among them is taking a stressed (probably exhausted) puppy to a busy park after a very long trip. The infectious disease concern is taking this puppy (hard to say what it’s vaccine or deworming status is) from the other side of the world and immediately exposing it to other animals. That poses risks to this pup and others at the park. It’s also likely an illegal importation. Dogs that are not being brought in by their owners are considered commercial imports. Regulations specifically state that dogs coming in as rescues are considered commercial. Commercial importation of dogs <8 months of age that do not come from a registered kennel is illegal. Otherwise, they must have a rabies certificate, veterinary certificate of health, microchip or tattoo and an import permit. I doubt this dog had those.

Canine flu

Canine H3N2 influenza continues to spread across the US (likely after it came into the country with a dog imported from Asia). Click here for a map of CIV in the US and testing summary from Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center.  The spread of the virus has been facilitated by inter-US travel; people taking their dogs on vacation to areas where the virus is active and bringing it home with them. I’m not saying dogs shouldn’t move within a county. It would just be wise for people traveling with their pets to do a little research into issues in areas they will be visiting. That might indicate a need for vaccination or anti-parasitic treatment for something not native to their home region, or identify a concern like H3N2 flu. If at all possible, people should not travel with their dogs to areas where H3N2 is active. If they do, they should make sure their dogs stay away from local dogs and, when they return home, that their dogs stay away from other dogs for a week or two in case they were infected.

Rabies in France (Importation issues, Part deux)

A few days ago, 13 adults and 3 kids in France started rabies post-exposure treatment after contact with a rabid puppy. As is the common story with rabies cases in that region, the dog was imported illegally. The dog came from Hungary in December, then accompanied its owners to Algeria in April. It began to show signs of rabies May 16, and the virus strain that was isolated was the Africa 1 strain, consistent with infection acquired in Algeria.

There were a couple breaches of the law in this case. Its initial importation from Hungary was illegal because it was not of the minimum age for importation, had not been vaccinated and had no identification. (Sadly, those wouldn’t be illegal in Canada. For importation of a personal pet, we don’t have a minimum age, and puppies less than 3 months of age don’t need to be vaccinated against rabies. There’s also no tracking. Dumb but true.) Its return from Algeria was also illegal. So, these owners who flaunted the law twice (and presumably didn’t ever get the dog vaccinated against rabies), combined with absent regulatory scrutiny led to the death of this dog and (expensive) treatment of at least 16 people.