The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blocking adoption of stray dogs from more than 100 countries, including India, a steady source of pets for American families.
Adoptions will be suspended for at least a year over rabies fears, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. CDC officials are particularly worried about importing a canine rabies variant after discovering falsified rabies vaccination certificates for some incoming animals, the veterinary association noted.
The ban is a near-disaster for animal charities like India’s Kannan Animal Welfare, which helps find overseas homes for India’s many stray dogs that are often hard to place there. India has an estimated 60 million street dogs, many of them disfigured or disabled.
Kannan Animal Welfare’s founder, Vandana Anchalia, told CNN that in India stray dogs are considered dirty, ugly and hard to train. Indians prefer a dog with a pedigree.
In the past six years, the organization has sent some 115 rescued street dogs to the U.S. in partnership with American-based Operation Paws for Homes and Twenty Paws Rescue.
Virginia resident Tina Allen Kolessar launched a GoFundMe campaign in June to send as many strays as possible to the U.S. via Turkey before the CDC ban took effect in mid-July, reported the Loudoun Times-Mirror.
“We cannot leave them there,” Kolessar wrote on the campaign webpage. “We cannot put them back in the streets, landfills, and empty lots where they came from.”
One of the India dogs that made it to the U.S. was a little white mutt named Pihu, whose hind legs were amputated because of infections and gets around quite happily in his wheelie cart.
“People say to me all the time, ‘God bless you for taking a dog like that,’” owner Jill Trail told CNN. “But I’m the lucky one. There’s no sacrifice on my part. Pihu is just so inspirational and packed with personality.”
Americans have a soft spot for India’s street dogs, said Inder Sandhu, the founder of Peedu’s People, an NGO registered in Texas and Punjab. The group has sent close to 90 dogs with special needs to America over the past five years.
“It’s easy for people in the U.S. to find a dog, but they connect to the story of an Indian dog,” Sandhu said. “It’s not that Indians are not compassionate. It’s just that we’ve seen so much of it that there’s an apathy we have towards these animals.”
Check out the full CNN story on the India dogs here.