MILWAUKEE — The public has one more day to voice its opinion on a new Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) proposal that could put dogs and puppies from out of state at risk.
"Anything new coming into the state puts the current population we have at risk for any disease coming in we don't know about," Leann Duwe, with DATCP said. "This would help to protect animal health in Wisconsin. It'll help to protect consumers from purchasing potentially infected animals not showing disease symptoms yet."
The proposal reads:
"The current rule prohibits the import of a dog or cat unless the animal has a current rabies vaccination. The proposed rule also prohibits the following:
- Brucella Canis Requirement. No person may import a sexually intact dog for breeding, and no dog seller or dog facility operator licensed under Wis. Admin. Code ch. ATCP 16, may import a sexually intact dog without obtaining a negative test for Brucella canis completed within 30 days prior to the import using a test method approved by the department. If the dog is less than six weeks old, it must be accompanied by its dam, and the dam must have documentation meeting the requirement under this subdivision.
- Heartworm Test Requirement. No dog seller or dog facility operator licensed under Wis. Admin. Code ch. ATCP 16 may import a dog without obtaining a negative heartworm test completed within 6 months of the import using a test approved by the department. If the dog is less than six weeks old, it must be accompanied by its dam, and the dam must have documentation meeting the requirement under this subdivision.
The proposed rule requires that the certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) that accompanies any imported dog must document the Brucella canis and heartworm information, if applicable, with a negative Brucella canis test and/or a negative heartworm test. The proposed rule also requires the CVI of any imported dog to include a statement that the dog has no known prior positive heartworm test, or, if the dog had a prior positive heartworm test, that the dog received appropriate treatment protocol as recommended by the American Heartworm Society and list the treatment dates. The current rule specifies that a CVI is not necessary when a dog is imported for treatment or returning home from treatment if certain requirements are met. The proposed rule specifies that cats do not need a CVI for these purposes either."
Brucellosis is a non-fatal, sexually transmitted disease that can affect humans. Earlier this spring, there was an outbreak that required several area shelters to be quarantined.
However, the Wisconsin Humane Society said this proposal could be a detriment to the thousands of out of state dogs who come through their doors each year.
"Without that pipeline to Wisconsin, we don't know where those dogs and puppies will go," Angela Speed with the Wisconsin Humane Society said. "Hopefully, some other states will absorb some of them but we fully expect that many will be euthanized."
The Humane Society already tests the dogs they get from out of state for heart worm and they must have up to date rabies vaccines if they're old enough. However, they question the legitimacy of testing for brucellosis.
"Brucellosis has such a low transmission risk and is so incredibly rare to see in a shelter environment," Speed said.
Now, Speed's concern is about what the lack of dogs coming into shelters in Wisconsin could do to the puppy mill industry in the state.
"We alone adopted nearly 3,000 dogs from out of state last year," Speed said. "We could be talking about thousands of families looking for dogs. Where are Wisconsin families going to get their dogs? We don't want to help fuel the puppy mill industry or disreputable sources of dogs."
Speed says the Humane Society is willing to work with DATCP about proposals identifying any sort of problem with the transport of animals. The public can weigh in by the end of the day on Aug. 7th by emailing the DATCP Program and Policy Analyst for the Division of Animal Health at firstname.lastname@example.org.