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US unveils new rules for people who want to travel with their dogs

Evening Headlines

Dogs coming into the US from other countries must be at least six months old and microchipped to help prevent the spread of rabies.

New government rules, published on Wednesday, require vaccination for dogs that have been in countries where rabies is common.

The update applies to dogs brought in by breeders or rescue groups as well as pets traveling with their US owners.

“This new regulation is going to address the current challenges that we’re facing,” said Emily Pieracci, a rabies expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who was involved in drafting the updated regulations.

The CDC posted the new rules in the federal register on Wednesday. They take effect on August 1 when a temporary 2021 order expires. That order suspended bringing in dogs from more than 100 countries where rabies is still a problem.

The new rules require all dogs entering the US. to be at least six months, old enough to be vaccinated if required and for the shots to take effect; have a microchip placed under their skin with a code that can be used to verify rabies vaccination; and have completed a new CDC import form.

There may be additional restrictions and requirements based on where the dog was the previous six months, which may include blood testing from CDC-approved labs.

The CDC regulations were last updated in 1956, and a lot has changed, Pieracci said.

More people travel internationally with their pets, and more rescue groups and breeders have set up overseas operations to meet the demand for pets, she said.

Now, about 1 million dogs enter the US each year.

A trainer walks with a service dog through the Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport while taking part of a training exercise (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Dogs were once common carriers of the rabies virus in the US but the type that normally circulates in dogs was eliminated through vaccinations in the 1970s. The virus invades the central nervous system and is usually a fatal disease in animals and humans. It’s most commonly spread through a bite from an infected animal. There is no cure for it once symptoms begin.

Four rabid dogs have been identified entering the US since 2015, and officials worried more might get through. CDC officials also were seeing an increase of incomplete or fraudulent rabies vaccination…

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