Sen. John Kennedy introduced legislation that would negate previous rabies rules and allow those returning from abroad to keep their pets in the United States.
Typically, pets that have not had a rabies vaccination or have had it expire are required to get the vaccine and quarantine for 28 days before entering the U.S. It takes the rabies vaccine 28 days to immunize and protect a pet.
Kennedy’s bill, called the Permanently Uniting Pets Stateside Act, or PUPS Act, for short, would allow pets to quarantine in the U.S. for rabies and other health issues.
“The Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection shall permit the entry into the United States of a pet accompanying a covered individual entering the United States without regard to the requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Agriculture with respect to the entry of pets into the United States if the individual agrees to comply with those requirements as soon as practicable after entering the United States,” the text of the bill reads.
In late June, Audra Elam’s predicament went viral after she evacuated her Peace Corps post in Togo as a result of the pandemic. She worked with an agency that sent her dog Socrates from neighboring Ghana to the U.S.
However, when Socrates arrived at JFK International Airport, she was told her dog would need to go back to Ghana to quarantine because his rabies vaccine had expired. Elam worried that if her dog was forced to go back to Ghana, where those who had cared for him likely wouldn’t be able to afford to continue feeding him, he wouldn’t survive.
Ultimately, Socrates was allowed to remain in the U.S.
Brian Harrison, chief of staff for the Department of Health and Human Services, said at the time, “Working alongside CDC Director Redfield and our General Counsel, we have determined there is nothing within law that requires Socrates to return to Ghana for the duration of his quarantine. He can remain in the United States, and CDC will be reviewing its guidance to ensure it is consistent with what the law requires. The Trump administration has once again shown a dogged determination to pursue deregulation and unleash some common sense. Happy 4th, and welcome to America, Socrates!”
Kennedy told Fox News’s Dana Perino that he called the director of the CDC about the issue.
“Pets are part of the family,” he said.