Canada closes borders to dogs from over 100 countries over rabies concerns

Federal officials plan to close Canada’s borders for commercial purposes on Wednesday dogIncludes listings for sale or adoption from over 100 countries considered to be at high risk for rabies in dogs.

The move has faced strong opposition from some animal rescuers and advocates, but the Canadian Veterinary Association says it is necessary to protect people and animals. dog from fatal illness.

Canada currently has no active cases of canine rabies caused by a variant of the virus distinct from the virus circulating in wildlife such as raccoons and foxes.

Rabies is almost 100% preventable with proper vaccination, but the disease is more than 99% fatal to humans. dog Once they started showing symptoms, the agency said.

The CFIA said dog rabies kills 59,000 people each year in countries affected by the ban, including Afghanistan, Ukraine and mainland China.

Concerns about canine rabies have increased in Canada since the United States implemented a similar ban last year, prompting some rescue groups to redirect efforts to send more dogs. dog to Canada, Luis Quantes, former president of the Canadian Veterinary Association, said:

“We always knew there was a risk,” said Quantes. “But when it is actually in your country, that theoretical risk becomes a real, present danger.”

2 cases of rabies dog According to Ontario’s Department of Agriculture and Food, imports from Iran, one of the banned countries, have been confirmed in Ontario since July 2021.

both dog They had been vaccinated against rabies, which is not licensed in Canada, before their arrival, according to Ontario officials. dog They received post-exposure prophylaxis for rabies, a type of treatment estimated to cost about $2,000 per person.

Kwantes said these cases demonstrate the danger posed by even one case of canine rabies entering the country.

in the meantime dog He said he was vaccinated against rabies on a regular basis, but most Canadians were not. Given the close relationship between them, the dog breed is cause for concern, he said.

Rabies is a slow-growing disease that can take months to show symptoms, depending on where you were bitten, Kwantes said. This means that if a dog is bitten and infected with rabies before being vaccinated, the virus can “hide” in its nervous system for months.

Many of the banned countries do not have robust veterinary systems, Kwantes said, raising concerns about fake vaccine certificates and inadequate vaccinations.

The CFIA’s stance may seem harsh, but Kwantes said it is justified given the risk that canine rabies and other endemic diseases pose to Canada’s human and dog populations. I believe.

“It’s a very difficult step, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable,” he said.

But Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice Canada, said the CFIA should have considered less stringent measures before imposing a sweeping ban.

“They went from 0 to 100 very quickly,” says Labchuk.

US officials extend national ban dog From countries where rabies is a problem to 2023 dog that meet specific requirements.

Ravchuk said Canada should have considered making similar exceptions as part of its policy and should have proposed protocols such as additional vaccine verification, antibody testing and mandatory quarantines.

These procedures are labor-intensive and costly, she admitted, but would still be preferable to “blame”. dog I need help.

“Canada has really been a lifeline for internationally active dog rescue agencies,” Labchuk said. “The dog rescue organization with which we work very closely is in disrepair.”

Many dog ​​rescue groups across Canada have opposed the ban, with some even pledging to bring in as many animals as possible before it goes into effect Wednesday.

Susan Patterson, founder of Vancouver’s Thank Dog I Am Out Rescue Society, said the frenzy epitomizes some of the issues surrounding international animal “rescue.”

Many well-intentioned but inexperienced rescuers do not consider the infrastructure and resources necessary to ensure safety. dog Welfare in Canada.

Patterson said he believes the CFIA ban is a tough but necessary measure. dog They may not be ready to care.

“I have a huge passion for bringing in as many animals as possible,” says Patterson. His group was part of an effort to bring hundreds of animals from Afghanistan to Canada.

“But it’s not over when the dogs’ paws land on Canadian soil. When they arrive, there’s a lot to do.”

Adina Bresgue

canadian press