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Local rescue group scrambles to bring dogs stateside before international CDC ban goes into effect

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Posted at 5:17 AM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 08:51:06-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The goal of Southeastern Virginia Golden Retriever, Rescue, Education and Training (SEVA GRREAT) is to save dogs and bring them to the United States to find a loving home.

Right now, the non-profit organization is hoping to ward off a new ban from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that's set to go into effect on July 14.

"It’s been devastating news for sure," Jane Krom, the international coordinator for SEVA GRREAT, said. “We found out just about a week ago and were quite taken by surprise to see it coming."

This ban would prohibit dogs entering the U.S. from 113 countries because of concerns over high rabies cases and inadequate rabies vaccinations. Two of the countries include Turkey and China, where the group rescues golden retrievers.

“We just feel like a blanket ban is not the way to go about doing that,” Krom said. “There’s got to be a better way."

News 3 reached out to the CDC for clarification on the ban. In an email response, the CDC said rescue organizations would not be exempt unless they receive permission through the agency. Exemptions will be made to those who are U.S. citizens and government officials returning from abroad or for science, education or exhibition purposes.

"Anything we can do to protect the people that are going to be interacting with dogs,” Dr. Annmarie Woyma, said, “that are being imported and protecting public health is really important."

Dr. Woyma is the medical director at the Virginia Beach SPCA. She said the symptoms of rabies might not appear suddenly, but when they do, it will be fatal by then.

"By that point, that animal has gone through the airport,” Dr. Woyma explained, “potentially gone into a home with an individual, maybe gone to a vet's office."

Krom said organizations like SEVA GRREAT do take steps to make sure the dogs they bring in have already received their vaccinations and exams.

They demonstrated a “passport,” which shows all of the vaccinations and exams a dog has received. Each dog had a passport to show as evidence.

Related: Coronavirus forces fosters, local dog rescue organization to wait months for rescued dogs

SEVA GRREAT is raising funds through a GoFundMe to expedite the process for 15 dogs before July 14. Krom said they reached out to elected officials for help, but have not heard back.

Still, she suggested there was optimism.

“It’s looking promising to at least get some over before the ban,” Krom said.