Skip to main content

Gibson, a rescue from Afghanistan, is photographed at No Dogs Left Behind in Toronto on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. Canada will close its borders Wednesday to commercial dogs from more than 100 countries deemed to be at high risk for canine rabies.Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

Federal authorities are set to close Canada’s borders Wednesday to commercial dogs, including ones being put up for sale or adoption, from more than 100 countries deemed to be at high risk for canine rabies.

The move has been met with fierce opposition from some animal rescuers and advocates, but the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association says it’s necessary to protect people and dogs from a deadly disease.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says Canada currently has no active cases of dog rabies, which is caused by a different variant of the virus than the one that circulates in wildlife such as raccoons and foxes.

Owen Laukkanen: Canada is abandoning the dogs that most need our help

The agency says that while rabies is nearly 100 per cent preventable with proper vaccination, the disease is more than 99 per cent fatal for humans and dogs once they start to show symptoms.

Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice Canada, says the agency should have opted for less stringent measures, such as antibody testing to verify vaccination, before imposing an all-out ban.

But Louis Kwantes, past president of Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, says he thinks the policy is warranted given the risks canine rabies poses to Canada’s human and dog populations.

The CFIA says dog rabies kills 59,000 people every year in the countries affected by the ban, including Afghanistan, Ukraine and mainland China.