The Foreign Service Journal, September 2021

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2021 69 AFSA Pushes for Change on CDC Dog Import Restrictions AFSA continues to receive messages of concern from members about the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulations on the import of dogs into the United States. On July 14 the CDC banned dog imports from 113 high-risk rabies countries for the next year, leaving Foreign Service families scrambling to find ways to bring their pets with them to their next assignments. For many who are trans- ferring this year, this situa- tion is fraught with anxiety and adds unexpected com- plications and worry to an already stressful time. We will continue to advocate force- fully to explore every possible avenue so that our members can travel on schedule and be with their beloved animal companions as planned. We have raised the issue at the highest levels of the State Department. AFSA President Eric Rubin met with Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources Brian McKeon on July 9 and urged him to make contact with the CDC to seek an exemption for U.S. government employees returning to the United States on official orders. On July 20 Ambassa- dor Rubin sent a letter to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky asking for an exemption until at least Oct. 14 to accommodate the summer transfer season. We raised the need to expedite requests for import permits when received from govern- ment employees traveling on official orders, and the need to make more laboratories available for testing both overseas and in the United States. We also asked the CDC to ensure that airlines and airports are aware of the existing dispensations. On July 23 AFSA spoke with the acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Administration to get an update. AFSA learned that for the period after Oct. 14 the department is pressing the CDC to ensure that many more rabies testing sites are available—including at least one in the United States that could be served by State’s transport and dispatch sys- tem. State is also conveying to the CDC that the certifi- cation of many more entry points in the United States (including Dulles) is vital. In the meantime, AFSA continues to engage with department management. We are assured that: • The CDC will give priority to import permit applications from people with government travel orders when emailed to CDCanimalimports@cdc. gov; • State Transportation will give assistance to employees who need help at Transporta- ; and • State will continue to allow maximum flexibility during this summer transfer season. The dispensation to be able to travel two months on either side of your transfer eligibility date remains in force, so members may have time to meet the CDC require- ments before traveling. AFSA also recognizes the efforts of the Foreign Affairs Friends of Animals Network on Facebook, whose mem- bers have written to their congressional representa- tives and started a petition to the CDC asking for a general exemption to the new require- ments, which, as of Aug. 1, the petition had more than 11,500 signatures. (see stopCDCdogban). n CDC Responds to FS Community The Foreign Service Journal contacted the CDC about the recent dog import ban. Dr. Emily Pieracci, CDC’s zoonoses team lead in the Quarantine and Border Health Services Branch, told us: “The CDC is currently working on a long-term solution to address dog importation chal- lenges in the U.S.” In the meantime, she offered several recommendations to ease the permit process. Permit requirements are evolving; make sure you stay current. The CDC updated its list of approved labs ( ) for the required rabies titer test— from only four worldwide to more than 40, a change AFSA had advocated for. The CDC is also adding approved ports of entry. Plan for unforeseen circumstances. Keep rabies vaccination current and obtain a titer test each year. With these in place, the agency said it can expedite the permit process if authorized departure or other circumstances arise. Don’t adopt pets in the last six months of a tour. “Rescued dogs present the greatest risk of rabies due to their unknown exposure history,” Dr. Pieracci said. LINDAMICHEL