Dog vaccine

Last flight of rescue dogs lands in Toronto ahead of import ban

The last flight of internationally rescued golden retrievers landed at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Tuesday ahead of a new policy that will ban the import of dogs from more than 100 countries by the end of the month.

At Pearson, emotions ran high when the dogs first met their new owners.

“We’ve had two previous rescues and it’s been a great life for them and a great life for us,” said Lou Vanderploge, who was among more than 40 families who adopted the dogs.

The golden retrievers were rescued from shelters in Cairo, Egypt, and brought to Canada by the non-profit organization Golden Rescue.

The group has rescued more than 1,700 dogs from overseas, but this is their latest international rescue under the new policy put in place by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

“It would have been nice if the CFIA had stepped in and reviewed our policies and procedures,” said Dr. Scott Bainbridge, veterinarian and Golden Rescue board member. “After bringing over 1700 dogs, we have never brought a rabid dog.”

The agency says that from September 28, which is World Rabies Day, the entry of commercial dogs from countries it considers to be at high risk for canine rabies will be banned.

The CFIA defines “commercial dogs” as those intended for resale, adoption, fostering, breeding, show or exhibition, research and d other purposes.

Egypt and Turkey are on the list of two countries where Golden Rescue imports dogs for adoption.

Since learning of the ban in June, the group has raced to bring 130 rescues to Canada.

“There are thousands of dogs in the shelter system – it’s a matter of life and death – the conditions, the health care is not great,” Dr Bainbridge said.

The agency says the ban is necessary to reduce the risk of canine rabies entering Canada, which it says poses a serious health risk to Canadians and their pets once symptoms appear. in humans, the disease is almost always fatal.

According to the CFIA, two dogs from Iran were imported into Canada with the disease. Canada currently has no confirmed cases of canine rabies.

“The importation of a single rabid dog could result in its transmission to humans, pets and wildlife,” the agency said in a public advisory issued in June.

“We are heartbroken by the CFIA’s decision and we are beyond disappointed that the CFIA did not reach out to the relief community prior to making the decision to impose the ban,” said Viive Tamm, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Golden Rescue.

“If they had, we could have allayed their concerns about the possibility of importing rabies into Canada.”

Animal rights advocates and rescue groups are calling for exemptions or changes to the new measure so they can continue their rescue efforts while keeping the public and pets safe.

“We are strict with the vaccination protocol, we actually analyze rabies titers before they come in to show that if they were exposed to rabies they would be protected,” Dr Bainbridge said.

Asked about potential exemptions, a CFIA spokesperson said: “CFIA has developed an approach that is relevant and proportionate to the current public health risks to animals and people, and takes into account aspects such as as the CFIA’s regulatory framework and infrastructure, including quarantine facilities. at entry points. »

Barring exemptions, Golden Rescue says it will focus its efforts in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.