Importation, Sale, and Transport of Animals

In 2003, the United States exported 125,000 head of cattle and imported about 1.52 million head; there were 134,000 live hogs exported and 7.25 million live hogs imported (Beghin et al., 2004). Every year, a variety of sources provides millions of animals to the exotic companion animal trade. Animals are captured from their native habitat and transported to various countries to be sold as companion animals. Others are surplus animals from zoos or their offspring. Backyard breeders also supply exotic companion animals (API, 2003). Consequently, the importation of animals is an important concern of the animal health framework.

In 2002, more than 22 federal agencies were consolidated into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including components of APHIS that conduct inspection and animal quarantine activities at U.S. ports and the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC). Approximately 2,600 employees from the APHIS Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection (AQI) force became part of the DHS Border and Transportation Security’s Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on March 1, 2003 (USDA APHIS, 2003a).

Although DHS is now responsible for protecting the nation’s borders, USDA APHIS, continues to set agricultural policy through risk assessment, pathway analysis, and rule making, including specific quarantine, testing, and other conditions under which animals, animal products, and veterinary biologics can be imported. These policies are then implemented by DHS (USDA APHIS, 2003a). USDA APHIS-VS port veterinarians inspect live animals at border ports and place animals in quarantine until testing is completed. They are located at 43 VS areas and report to the veterinarian in charge of the VS-Area Office (Joseph Annelli, personal communication, April 2004). With agricultural border inspectors now a part of DHS, VS has identified a need for developing new protocols for training and interacting with these inspectors, as well as a need to work with DHS to implement improvements recommended in the Animal Health Safeguarding Review regarding pest exclusion activities at U.S. borders in its strategic plan (USDA, 2004d).

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the CDC, has the authority to make and enforce regulations to prevent transmission of infectious disease from foreign countries into the United States (42 CFR70 and 71). Under these regulatory authorities, CDC has established embargoes on prairie dogs and other animals that could carry the monkeypox virus and on birds from specified Southeast Asian countries (CDC, 2003d; CDC, 2004b). Table 2-2 provides a summary of agencies and functions involved in border control and a review of the events related to their organization.

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