Japan plans to require cats and dogs that are being brought from areas with rabies to undergo a new double-vaccination regime outside the country, according to farm officials, a move that will drastically cut the imports of such animals younger than 10 months.
The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry plans to revise an ordinance based on a panel report released Tuesday and to debut the system by the end of the year.
The new policy is in response to a rapid rise in imports of puppies, due to the recent popularity of pets in Japan, the officials said.
There has not been a case of rabies in Japan since 1957, and the ministry is hoping to prevent it from being brought into the country from neighboring regions, including China, where more than 1,000 people die each year from the disease.
Under the new two-shot system, the first injection can be given no earlier than at age 3 months and a second shot given at least one month later. The animal is then checked for the appropriate level of antibodies.
After being vaccinated, the animal will have to be kept in its place of origin for a six-month incubation period before being allowed to enter Japan. The time at an animal quarantine station in Japan will be cut to a maximum of 12 hours, from six months.
The entire process will take a minimum of 10 months.
The ministry will also require information such as vaccination records, a pet’s age and birthplace to be kept on individual microchips embedded under the skin.
Vaccinations will not be mandatory for cats and dogs from 13 countries and territories that are free of rabies.
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