Beginning Aug. 1, dogs being brought into the United States will need to meet new regulations or they’ll be sent away.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its dog importation regulation — a move the public health agency said is needed to “protect the health and safety of people and animals” by ensuring any dog allowed in the country is healthy and won’t pose some kind of risk. This is an update to rules made in 1956.

Under the new regulations, the dogs must:

  • Appear healthy.
  • Be 6 months or older.
  • Have a microchip.
  • Be accompanied by someone who has a receipt for a form previously submitted online called a CDC Dog Import Form.

Every dog entering the U.S. must meet those requirements. Other rules may also apply, based on where the dog has recently been or whether it was vaccinated in the U.S., according to a CDC news release.

NPR reported that the U.S. imports as many as 1 million dogs a year. “In 2021, amid a surge of pandemic-inspired pet adoption, the CDC suspended importations from 113 countries where rabies is still endemic because of an increase in fraudulent rabies vaccination certificates.” The countries from which a dog has not been allowed to enter the U.S. since that time include Brazil, China, Colombia, Kenya, Nepal, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Uganda and Vietnam.”

One of the major issues is the potential a dog has rabies.

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“The rabies virus variant carried by dogs (dog rabies) was eliminated in the United States in 2007 and CDC wants to prevent the re-introduction of dog rabies into the United States. This regulation builds on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic when a temporary suspension was enacted for the importation of dogs from countries with a high risk of rabies. This suspension will expire when the updated regulation goes into effect on August 1, 2024,” the CDC announcement said. “The regulation also more closely aligns with the World Organisation for Animal Health’s standards for the international movement of dogs from countries with a high risk of dog rabies. Furthermore, it addresses recent challenges seen with international dog importations, such as fraudulent documentation and dogs housed in unsafe conditions if they didn’t meet requirements for entry to the United States.”

The CDC has a “DogBot” to help dog owners who are traveling with their canine sort out which rules apply based on travel dates, locations and where the creature was vaccinated. Folks are urged to make sure their dogs meet requirements to enter the country before trying.

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s president told NPR it was pleased with the changes, which “will help protect public health and positively impact canine health and welfare.”