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Canada’s move to ban international dog adoption due to rabies threat ‘devastating’: B.C. group

Meanwhile, veterinary organizations support ban saying ‘science and safety trumps emotion’
FILE - A shelter dog looks out from a crate after having been unloaded from a cargo plane, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

An International dog rescue organization in B.C. is alarmed by a recent federal decision to ban the commercial importation of dogs from over 100 countries over the risk of rabies transmission.

Jan Olsen, founder of Vancouver-based Loved At Last Dog Rescue, said the ban will have a devastating impact on rescue organizations and dogs around the world.

“Canada has been a haven for unwanted dogs around the world. These overseas rescuers rely on Canadians adopting their dogs. Without that happening, they have virtually nowhere for their dogs to go. They have to stop rescuing. These dogs are just going to have to continue to suffer.”

Olsen said the ban will “virtually demolish” her rescue organization, as well as others across the country.

“It’s completely out of step with how Canadians feel about adopting rescue dogs.”

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The move came from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency after two dogs imported from Iran tested positive for canine rabies. In a statement to Black Press Media, the CFIA said that public health authorities assessed over 50 people and their pets for post-exposure prophylaxis treatment.

Canada does not have any confirmed cases of canine rabies — which is the most fatal strain to humans. It’s estimated 59,000 people die from canine rabies around the world every year.

This prompted the CFIA to ‘“take action” to prevent canine rabies from entering Canada. As of September 28, 2022, all shipments of commercial dogs, regardless of age, from countries at high-risk for dog rabies, will be prohibited.

Society of B.C. Veterinarians’ board member Dr. Christiane Armstrong said that she is in favour of the ban.

“There are obviously pros, cons and repercussions of the ban, but the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association certainly supports it, the Society of B.C. Veterinarians support it as well.”

Armstrong said support from the veterinary organizations is based on the threat to human and pet health if canine rabies was allowed to spread in Canada.

“It’s a choice between doing the logical, protective regulation for the Canadian public and animals versus the emotional pull that says there are animals out there that we’d love to be able to rescue. Science and safety trumps emotion and that’s why we support it.”

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