Animal rights activists are criticizing a new Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) policy that will ban the import of dogs from more than 100 countries.
The agency has announced that it will ban the entry of commercial dogs from countries it considers to be at high risk for canine rabies beginning September 28, which is World Rabies Day. The agency says the ban is necessary to reduce the risk of canine rabies entering Canada and defines “commercial dogs” as dogs intended for resale, adoption, foster care, reproduction, display or exhibition, research and other purposes.
“Canada currently has no active cases of canine rabies, a different strain of rabies typically found in wildlife…However, in 2021, dogs were imported into Canada with this disease,” said explained the agency in a notice published on June 28. “The importation of a single rabid dog could lead to its transmission to humans, pets and wildlife.”
Countries designated by the CFIA as high risk include Ukraine and Afghanistan, which have been hard hit by wars; and in the Philippines and China, where dogs are at risk of being sold into the meat trade.
Animal Justice, a Canadian animal welfare group, argues that the ban will prevent the rescue of vulnerable dogs in those countries by organizations and individuals in Canada.
“Many Canadians are eager to adopt dogs, but this blanket ban will condemn thousands of dogs to languish on the streets or be killed in overcrowded shelters instead of finding loving homes in Canada,” said Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, in a press release.
The group started a petition asking the CFIA to create an exemption for animal rescues and humanitarian efforts that would allow adoptable animals to enter Canada. The US Centers for Disease Control added a similar exemption to its own dog import policy in June and now welcomes dogs from high-risk countries as long as they meet certain vaccination and quarantine criteria.
In its petition, Animal Justice alleges that the CFIA failed to consult with Canadian dog rescue agencies before announcing the ban, and claims that some of these groups are at risk of closing if they can no longer facilitate rescues. international.
One such group, Save a Friend, works with an organization in Colombia to fund medical care and find homes for rescued street dogs and pet shelters. It depends on adoption fees and donations to operate.
“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 the organization, in A press release. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already dire situation in Colombia for animals, and if this policy is not changed, dogs will suffer and die in greater numbers.”
CTV News contacted the CFIA for comment, but had not received a response at the time of publication.