News Release: Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Reaffirms Stance on Stricter Dog Importation Rules after Dead Puppies Arrive on International Flight

June 23, 2020

OTTAWA, Ontario – The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is once again calling on the federal government to implement stricter canine importation regulations after a flight from the Ukraine arrived in Canada carrying more than 500 animals, 38 of which were deceased puppies.

“We know there are serious issues with respect to dog importation into Canada,” says Dr. Melanie Hicks, CVMA President. “Often times groups are trying to bring in what they believe are rescue animals, but this appears to be a case of large-scale puppy mill importation. Both scenarios present serious animal welfare concerns.”

Over the past several years, the CVMA has grown increasingly concerned about the importation of dogs into Canada as companion animals from several countries around the world. In many cases the countries of origin do not have the high standards we enjoy in Canada in areas of public health, and animal health and welfare.

This event is even more concerning as not only might the surviving puppies place animals and people in this country at risk by the inadvertent importation of disease, but the dogs’ own health and safety was not adequately ensured resulting in a large number of puppies severely physically compromised or dead. The Health of Animals Regulations Part XII state that the regulations apply to animals entering Canada as well as within Canada. These same regulations require that animal fitness be assessed prior to transport and monitored during transport, that an animal be provided feed, safe water to meet its needs, and that conveyances and containers provide adequate ventilation “so that the animal is not likely to suffer, sustain an injury or die.” This applies to all conveyances including by air and there regulations were not adhered to in this importation. The CVMA encourages the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to carefully review this and similar activities and to take appropriate enforcement action.

In addition, diseases of animals and zoonotic diseases may be endemic in other countries but absent from Canada. The CVMA’s concern is based not only on hypothetical risks but on concrete examples of parasitic, viral and bacterial diseases having entered Canada by way of dogs, and directly impacting animal and human health. It is unacceptable in the CVMA’s view that dogs are permitted to be imported into Canada without comprehensive risk mitigation strategies in place that are designed to protect Canadians and Canada’s animal resource base, including policies, regulations and educational initiatives.

The CVMA has taken a number of actions over the past several years to investigate and assess the issues surrounding dog importation, engage its members and external stakeholders, and develop tools for veterinarians and importers to help promote a precautionary approach to importing dogs into Canada.

These actions include:

The CVMA’s position on dog importation referred to above states, in part:

“… The CVMA encourages the federal government to play a leadership role in the development of effective policies, legislation, regulation, and risk management strategies at the national level. In addition, the CVMA encourages development and implementation of educational initiatives by stakeholder organizations to inform their members about animal health, public health, animal welfare risks, and the associated mitigation strategies pertaining to the importation of and transboundary movement of dogs within Canada …”

Find more information on the CVMA’s work regarding dog importation at


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The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is the national and international voice for Canada’s veterinarians, providing leadership and advocacy for veterinary medicine. Visit to learn more about the CVMA.

Lori Tarbett, Manager of Public Relations and Communications
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
613-236-1162 ext. 128