Canada's decision to ban dogs from countries with high risk for rabies 'nonsensical,' advocates say
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is banning dogs from certain countries starting Sept. 28
Animal rights advocates in B.C. say a federal agency's decision to ban commercial dogs from countries with a high risk for rabies is a step in the wrong direction, and more regulation is needed instead to protect animals and ensure public safety.
In a notice on June 28, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFI) announced that commercial dogs — dogs intended for resale, adoption, fostering, breeding, exhibition and research — from a list of about 100 countries that are at high risk for rabies will be banned from entering Canada starting Sept. 28, regardless of when import permits were issued.
"This is heartbreaking," Rebecca Breder, a Vancouver-based lawyer specializing in animal law, said on CBC's BC Today.
"It'll be a death sentence for literally thousands of dogs who desperately need loving homes and good health care."
Most of the countries affected are in Africa, Central and South America, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
CFI said Canada does not have any active cases of "dog rabies," a strain different from the rabies typically found in wildlife such as skunks, foxes, raccoons and bats.
But it says that last year, dogs with the disease were imported into Canada, and the Public Health Agency of Canada and provincial health authorities have asked CFI to take action as a result.
"The importation of even one rabid dog could result in transmission to humans, pets, and wildlife. If a person is exposed, they need to undergo serious medical treatment," the food inspection agency said.
Breder says she recognizes there are rescuers who are not doing their due diligence like veterinary checks, but a blanket ban without any consultation with animal welfare and rescue organizations is a "nonsensical" change.
"What concerns me with this ban right now is that the CFI is kind of wiping their hands clean," Breder said.
"There are quite a few irresponsible dog rescues who are homing dogs to homes who shouldn't have dogs to begin with."
She says regulation including quarantining, vet checks, and behavioural assessments are needed to ensure the safety of both the dogs and families who will home them.
Chantel King, a dog rescuer in Vancouver and mom to three dogs from India, said she had been making plans to travel there next year, to volunteer at a sanctuary run by the organization that helped her rescue the dogs.
"It's quite heartbreaking to be honest," King said.
"Some of the rescuers that we've worked with do vaccine clinics and spay and neuter clinics ... so we are very disappointed to hear the news."
Posted: Jul 08, 2022 6:00 AM PT