Animal Rescue Importation Guidelines

SOURCE: The Maine Veterinarian, January 2014 Edition

Notice From State Veterinarian Michele Walsh

When considering the addition of a new pet to the brood, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Division of Animal and Plant Health urges Mainers to take the time and care worthy of this significant and potentially joyful step. By doing some important but basic research ahead of time, and working with a local veterinarian, Mainers can help ensure the animal they are adopting is healthy, and the animal organization with which they are working is compliant with Maine law.

Fortunately, many groups — including local humane societies, shelters, rescue organizations and breeders – do wonderful work with animals and provide excellent opportunities to meet and learn about potential new pets prior to taking them home. Interacting with animals onsite prior to adoption gives families a chance to learn about any special behavioral or health requirements the animal might have, and to obtain a copy of the animal’s vaccination and health records. Reputable groups work closely with licensed veterinarians who assess the health of the animals in the facility, treat any medical issues, and quite possibly spay or neuter new arrivals before they are made available for adoption.

Obtaining a new pet off of the internet or from an animal organization based out of state can be more challenging. There are quality organizations to choose from in this sector, but all potential new pet owners should be aware of the state laws under which these organizations must transact businesses. Organizations selling animals to Maine or to Maine residents must register with the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and obtain an importation permit for placing animals in Maine homes, regardless of where the new animal is first picked up. Additionally, any dog or cat that is imported into Maine for the purpose of sale, resale or adoption must be accompanied by a Certification of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) completed by a veterinarian licensed in the animal’s state of origin within 30 days of the import into Maine. The CVI is part of the animal’s medical history, and should be included in your copy of the pet’s records. Veterinary visits prior to and shortly after adoption are key to decreasing the likelihood that the new pet is carrying a contagious disease that could be dangerous to humans or other animals in the household.

“Healthy pets make happy owners. We want all Mainers to have a positive experience adopting a new family member,” notes Maine State Veterinarian, Dr. Michele Walsh. “Obtaining a pet is a significant emotional and economic commitment. “Taking a few additional steps up front to help ensure that a new pet is healthy and well-adjusted can help prevent disappointment down the road.”

Dr. Walsh recommends the following tips when adopting a new pet:

• Work with a reputable local humane society whenever possible

• Meet with the pet prior to adopting to ensure that its behavior and demeanor are a good match for your family

• Obtain a copy of the animal’s medical record, vaccination history, and Certificate of Veterinary Inspection

• Ensure that the dog or cat is vaccinated for rabies if it is three months of age or older

• If working with a rescue organization, ensure that the business is properly registered and licensed in the state of Maine and in the state where the business is based, and/or with USDA Animal Care.