U.S. Customers and Border Protection, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working together to ensure that animals imported to the U.S. meet federal regulations designed to protect consumers and animal health.
“On average, we see 80 dogs imported as cargo weekly,” said Houston Area Port Director Raymond S. Polley. “In the months ahead of the holidays, the number increases about 30 percent.”
When animals are imported to the United States, they may be met by representatives of several government agencies, including CDC representatives who ensure that requirements for regulated animals are met to prevent the importation of disease.
“Sometimes, we see these puppies arriving from terribly long flights,” Polley said. “They are tired and in such a state. Our experienced officers work closely with CDC and USDA to ensure the imported puppies are in good health. This partnership yielded a turnkey operation that is replicated across the country.”
In Houston in 2017, 108 dogs were denied entry and in 2018, 57 dogs were not allowed entry into the country. The work started in Houston has led some importers to try to circumvent authorities by sending their imported puppies through other international airports.
“CBP, USDA and CDC across the country are enforcing federal regulations,” Polley said. “This time of year we dub our work Operation Santa Paws. We recognize that importers may try to meet the holiday demand by manipulating the animal’s records. It puts the consumer at risk and it definitely puts the animal at risk.”