New law requires out-of-state sellers to submit health certificates for imported dogs

California was the second-to-last U.S. state to pass legislation that requires out-of-state importers to provide health certificates.

It used to be California was one of only two states that did not require imported dogs to be inspected and issued health certificates upon entry into the state. That will change when a new law goes into effect on January 1, 2015.

The bill AB 1809, sponsored by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (R-San Diego), was just signed by Governor Jerry Brown. The law will require out-of-state animal dealers who sell dogs to California consumers or retailers to submit health certificates to county health departments.

“AB 1809 aims to reduce the threat to animals and consumers posed by importing potentially sick dogs from other states,” said Kevin O’Neill, senior state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Western region. “It’s surprising that California has languished behind 48 others states in protecting our communities, but thanks to the leadership of Assemblyman Brian Maienschein and Governor Brown this common sense protection is now law.”

The rise of online puppy sales has made importing dogs from other states directly to consumers easier than ever before. Due to a lack of import reporting requirements, local governments have been kept in the dark about how many dogs are entering their communities and the status of their health. This critical information is needed to ensure the effectiveness of sheltering, spay/neuter, and dog-licensing programs.

“Health certificates are legal documents signed by veterinarians who have evaluated the health of dogs and can attest to the accuracy of the information,” said Cori Menkin, senior director of the ASPCA Puppy Mills campaign. “If you purchase a dog from a pet store or online retailer, you aren’t able to see where the puppy originally came from, so you could unknowingly be supporting puppy mill cruelty. This new law will reduce the likelihood that imported dogs bring contagious diseases into California and protect consumers from purchasing sick dogs. We thank California lawmakers for passing this important legislation.”

AB 1809 does not apply to family dogs where ownership is not changing, dogs visiting California with their families, or dogs participating in dog shows. This new law comes on the heels of federal efforts to regulate the foreign puppy trade, as the USDA issued a new rule requiring non-U.S. breeders to provide certification that each dog is in good health, has received all necessary vaccinations, and is at least six months of age. It specifically targets dogs meant for resale in the commercial pet trade and will not prevent individuals from transporting their own pets.

The only state that doesn’t have this law is Texas.

Source: ASPCA