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Hundreds name on authorities to rethink ban on canines from international locations prone to canine rabies

Hundreds of Canadians are calling on the federal authorities to raise a current ban on imports of rescue canines from international locations with a “excessive danger” of canine rabies — however a consultant of a veterinary affiliation says the transfer was needed to guard public well being.

In June, the Canadian Meals Inspection Company (CFIA) introduced that industrial canines — together with canines meant for resale, adoption, fostering, breeding, exhibition or analysis — from roughly 100 international locations could be prohibited from getting into Canada as of Sept. 28.

A parliamentary petition calling on the federal government to rethink the ban and search for regulatory choices that might permit these rescue canines to maintain coming to Canada has collected greater than 15,000 signatures because it opened final month.

Heather Hulkenberg, who initiated the petition, stated that whereas she helps some rules to guard Canadians from a plague, she believes there’s a substitute for the ban that might permit these canines to be rescued.

“It simply appeared to me that it was a bit overreaching,” she stated of the CFIA’s ban. “Once you do a blanket ban like that, you are lacking lots of the rationale why individuals are bringing animals into Canada.”

The Calgary resident, who has labored with rescue organizations, stated the coverage will find yourself harming canine populations abroad.

“We do have to take a look at how we will alleviate the issues of canine rabies coming into Canada whereas nonetheless with the ability to rescue animals from different international locations,” Hulkenburg stated.

Veterinary affiliation says ban is warranted

Louis Kwantes of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Affiliation (CVMA) stated the CFIA’s resolution probably was linked to 2 instances of rabies from imported canines that have been confirmed in Ontario in 2021.

Each canines had acquired rabies vaccines that are not licensed in Canada earlier than their arrival, in response to the province’s Ministry of Agriculture and Meals. A complete of 49 individuals who got here into contact with the canines acquired rabies post-exposure prophylaxis, a sort of therapy that’s estimated to price about $2,000 per particular person.

Not like different types of animal rabies, the canine pressure has been eradicated in Canada. However even one case can current a lethal menace to each people and canines, Kwantes stated.

“We can not take our canine variant rabies-free standing in Canada without any consideration,” he stated, noting that when a person begins displaying medical indicators of an an infection, it is too late.

“As soon as an individual or a canine is contaminated and displaying indicators of rabies, they will die.”

Stray canines in a volunteer-operated shelter in Nis, Serbia in 2015. (Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Photographs)

Kwantes stated CFIA’s ban was warranted, given the dangers.

However Rebeka Breder, a Vancouver-based lawyer specializing in animal legislation, stated there could have been choices apart from a blanket ban.

“It is primarily a dying sentence for all these canines,” she stated. “And as an alternative of the CFIA and the federal authorities taking a considerate strategy to this, they’re simply form of utilizing one paintbrush to stroke all of it off their checklist.”

As an alternative, Breder stated, the federal government ought to work with rescue organizations to provide you with tighter rules that might shield public well being whereas permitting these rescue canines into Canada.

Camille Labchuk, government director of the advocacy group Animal Justice, instructed CBC in an electronic mail that tighter rules might embody having a overseas veterinary signal statutory declarations stating they’ve administered a rabies vaccine, having Canadian veterinarians evaluate vaccine certificates and requiring that every one canines endure a blood antibody check previous to their arrival.

Earlier than the ban, Kwantes stated the CVMA had been lobbying the CFIA for years to impose stricter import rules to guard Canadians from canine rabies. He stated strengthening rules to vary the ban is one thing the CFIA might have a look at — however cautioned that any such rules must be stringent.

“In lots of of those international locations from which canines originate, the veterinary companies are usually not essentially as sturdy and dependable as those we’ve got in North America and in Canada,” he stated.

The CFIA instructed CBC in an electronic mail {that a} ban was wanted to right away deal with the issue — however the company left the door open to future rules.

“At a later date, the CFIA will discover choices to additional strengthen the necessities for the import of non-public pet canines and help canines from these international locations,” a CFIA spokesperson stated in an electronic mail.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner rises throughout a query interval within the Home of Commons on June 18, 2021. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press)

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner, who’s sponsoring the petition in Parliament, stated she hopes the 1000’s of Canadians calling for a revision of the ban will spur the CFIA to behave.

“I believe that the federal government will finally transfer on this. It is only a matter of retaining the stress up and likewise saying that there are other ways to strategy this problem,” she stated.

Each Hulkenberg and Rempel Garner stated they’re inspired by the variety of signatures the petition has gathered to this point.

“I am stunned at how many individuals have taken the time to truly guarantee that their voices are heard,” Hulkenberg stated.

“It is one thing that Canadians care about,” Rempel Garner stated.

“And I believe that is on the coronary heart of this. It is compassion, it is caring.”

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