Why Flying With a Pet Just Got More Complicated

Posted by Billy Francis

Thinking of taking your dog on an overseas trip for the holidays? You might need to think again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended a temporary ruling to effectively ban the import of dogs from 113 countries. The ban, which went into full effect on October 14, aims to prevent animals at high risk of rabies from entering the United States. But it also applies to Americans and their canines traveling abroad and re-entering the U.S. after their trip.

The only way for a dog to be accepted from one of these nations is with a CDC Dog Import Permit that will only be available for “US citizens and lawful residents relocating from high-risk countries to bring their dogs into the United States. Such permits will be issued on an extremely limited basis.”

Even with a permit, only 18 airports across the country are currently able to process pets entering the country. This number will reduce to just three ports of entry on January 7, 2022: John F. Kennedy International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In addition, your pup must meet stringent requirements to even qualify for the permit, including being microchipped, having a valid rabies vaccination certificate and blood work from an approved serology laboratory.

“This temporary action is necessary to ensure the health and safety of dogs imported into the United States and to protect the public’s health against the reintroduction of canine rabies virus variant (dog rabies) into the United States,” the CDC says.

Part of the problem has been the surge in pet adoption during the pandemic, which has led to canine importers falsifying health documents to expedite the adoption process. In 2020, the CDC claims to have intervened with more than 450 false or incomplete rabies vaccination certificates.

The ban has been met with opposition from many, including Lori Kalef, Program Director at SPCA International.

“While we understand the importance of protecting dogs and people in the U.S. from rabies, we are very concerned that this drastic and sudden change by the CDC will put huge numbers of healthy dogs at risk if they can’t travel to the U.S. safely to their adoptive homes. The move also penalizes responsible pet owners and jeopardizes the life-saving work of NGOs and animal shelters globally,” Kalef said.

The new CDC ruling has exacerbated an already tumultuous time for people flying with pets. On December 2, 2020, the Department of Transportation (DOT) released a revision of the Air Carrier Access Act, which includes a final ruling that advises airlines to no longer treat emotional support animals as service animals, but rather as pets. Additionally, cancellations and reduction of flights has led to fewer options for pets traveling as checked baggage or in cargo.

It's important to note that the new ban does not affect domestic flights for canine passengers. Before you make your travel plans, make sure to visit BringFido's airline pet policy page and international pet travel page to get the latest rules, restrictions and fees for flying with your furry friend.

Are you planning to fly with your dog this holiday season? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

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