Hello ATA Friends,

I would like to alert everyone that the CDC has been strictly enforcing their existing regulations for importing dogs to the United States, specifically from countries considered high-risk for rabies. There has been a large number of dogs denied entry into the United States and returned to their country of origin due to improper proof of rabies. These requirements for the rabies vaccination certificate was submitted to IPATA by CDC in December 2018, but have just recently been more strictly enforced with actions taken when dogs do not comply. Because JFK has had frequent cases of illegal imports and puppy smuggling, dogs coming through JFK may be looked at more closely than other ports however, the risk exists at every airport in the United States.

We urge all of our IPATA friends to re-familiarize with the requirements listed on their website:

Countries that are considered high-risk for rabies can also be found on their website: 

Dogs coming from low-risk or no-known rabies risk must be accompanied by a statement that the dogs lived in a country with low or no risk for at least 6 months or since birth in order to be exempt from the rabies requirement. An oral statement may also be provided however, I would recommend adding this statement (if applicable) to veterinary certificates or as a separate document included with the shipment in order to avoid delay upon arrival. Even if the dog will have proper proof of rabies, I would suggest including this statement as long as it is applicable. Submitting false information or making other false statements is punishable with fines and imprisonment, as per CDC. 

Dogs imported through JFK that are placed on hold will be transferred to ARK Pet Oasis for care while the CDC further reviews the documentation and communicates with the importer. Additional fees are applied for each dog's care and accommodation per day while at ARK Pet Oasis. We understand that unexpected costs are troublesome and the re-exportation of live animals is the last thing that we want, but we can assure shippers and their clients that their dogs will be cared for at the highest level. The majority of documents that were previously accepted as proof of rabies is no longer accepted unless it includes every piece of information the CDC requires.

Attached is a letter recently distributed to customs brokers and other colleagues after a large number of dogs were denied entry at JFK. Please contact CDC directly with any specific questions regarding their regulations.

Please share this with veterinarians from your countries and other colleagues that may not be part of IPATA/ATA so that we may continue to improve the pet travel industry.

Thank you,

Kiera Mejia

Customer Experience Manager, The ARK at JFK

Office: 1-212-532-0084 x108

78A North Boundary Road, Jamaica, NY 11430 and


CDC letter for dog importation - click here