NPPC: Imported Rescue Dogs Pose Threat to US Agriculture

The National Pork Producers Council is concerned with the increasing number of rescue dogs coming into the U.S. from countries that are currently battling a Foreign Animal Disease. Liz Wagstrom is the NPPC’s Chief Veterinarian. She says they’re especially concerned about dogs coming into America from Asian wet markets and or the meat trade, where they could be contaminated by blood, urine, or manure.

“That could then serve to carry African Swine Fever, Foot-and-Mouth Disease, or Classical Swine Fever. The dogs themselves are not susceptible to those diseases, but they could have contamination on their coats, their bedding could be contaminated, or even dishes and toys that they came in with could be contaminated. So, our concern is that one of these animals could come into the United States, be adopted by somebody on a farm, and be carrying the virus in contamination on their coat, or that the crates and other hard items like bowls or bedding could be improperly disposed of and feral pigs could get into them.”

The NPPC wants rules in place to protect U.S. livestock herds. The organization says the USDA “definitely” has the authority to oversee dogs that come in for either sale or adoption. Wagstrom says a foreign animal disease getting into the United States would have a devastating impact on livestock.

“A Foreign Animal Disease would immediately shut down trade so we would end up with an excess number of animals. And even if it were African Swine Fever that only impacts the pig industry, we would have trading partners that may question milk, meat, and poultry exports. The depressed prices for pork could end up depressing prices for beef, poultry, and milk products as well. So, it would be a multiple billion-dollar hit to the entire livestock industry.”

It could also have a severe impact on the soybean industry, which sells a lot of its commodities to hog producers. They’d like to see USDA take steps to protect the livestock industry from FADs possibly coming in from overseas with these animals.

“We’re asking the USDA to write rules on how to safely bring those dogs in. We understand they’re being rescued from pretty horrific conditions, and so, if they’re coming in to be rescued, let’s make sure they’re coming in a safe manner where they are quarantined, where they are washed, where the crates, the bedding, and anything else that comes in with them are properly disposed of, so it’s a win-win situation for both the dogs and U.S. livestock.”

To help keep livestock safe, NPPC says the U.S. needs more agricultural inspectors at borders and ports.

“Last year, we got authorization for over 700 new agricultural agents and 60 K-9 teams. What has happened since is because those agents and activities are funding by user fees on international airline tickets and international cargo. Some of that just went away with a 95 percent decrease in international travel because of the pandemic. So, what we ended up doing is having to go through the appropriations process to keep those inspectors funded at the current level. And now for 2022 appropriations, we are back asking for additional funding.”