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Conn. lawmakers to demand veterinary exams for imported animals


Lawmakers are forcing groups who bring animals into Connecticut for adoption to have them examined by a veterinarian within 48 hours of importation.

HARTFORD, CONN. — Despite protests from animal-rescue organizations, lawmakers are forcing groups who bring animals into Connecticut for adoption to have them examined by a veterinarian within 48 hours of importation.

Gov. Daniel Malloy signed HB 5368 into law July 13 after months of debate by the legislature. Opponents of the bill argued that it would crush animal-rescue efforts and cause the price of adoptions to skyrocket.

The new law, which goes into effect Oct. 1, mandates that rescue organizations follow the same licensure requirements as pet stores. Veterinarians must provide the importer with a written certificate stating the animal is free from disease, and importers must maintain a record of any veterinary services performed on the animal for three years or risk a fine of $500. Following the initial examination, importers must also have each animal re-examined after 90 days, and every 90 days after that, until the animal is sold or adopted.

The veterinary community supported the bill, saying it is less about boosting revenue for veterinarians and more about protecting the health of the animals and the public.

"For several years, and especially since the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster, an informal, unregulated industry has developed, which functions to move animals into the state of Connecticut from other states," Dr. Gayle Block, president of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association (Connecticut VMA), states in testimony before the Connecticut General Assembly's Environmental Committee. Some of the animals are not really rescues, but come from commercial breeders, the association reports.

"Some animals are bred specifically for transport and characterization of these animals as needing rescue is misleading," the Connecticut VMA says. "Continued unregulated animal importation exposes Connecticut animals to disease, is unfair to citizens surprised by undisclosed medical issues and the costs to treat these, is inhumane."

In addition to the risk of importing diseases not native to Connecticut that veterinarians may not immediately recognize, the association also asserts that by importing animals in need of rescue, animals in Connecticut shelters can be overlooked.

"Animal trafficking has become so lucrative that some are breeding specifically for transport to the north. It is outrageous that we must kill thousands of healthy, adoptable cats and dogs due to pet overpopulation, while some profit from so-called rescue," Block adds.

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