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Animal Health Advisory: Puppy importations
Animal Health Advisory: Puppy importations

The Holiday season is upon us. Every year around this time, people buy puppies as gifts. As internet sales of puppies have become more popular, many of these puppies are imported from other countries. Puppy buyers may or may not be aware of the origins of their new dog.  Some websites advertise that the puppy is from a domestically bred female, when it is actually imported. 

The most popular breeds being imported, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, French and English Bulldogs, are coming from countries where the canine variant of rabies is still found.  Papers for many of these puppies state the dog is 12 weeks of age, but when physically examined at the airport, teeth eruption patterns reveal these dogs to be 8 weeks old or less. As a result, the rabies vaccine given to them prior to shipping would not be valid.

Attached is an informational flyer we created to inform the public about this issue and how they can be better informed when purchasing a puppy.  We are asking for your help in distributing this information.

Remember this holiday season to talk to your clients about their puppy purchases.  When new puppies are brought in for examination, always inquire about their origin and check the teeth to verify the puppy's age.  Additionally, if the puppy is sick, consider foreign animal diseases, including rabies. Report all potentially imported illnesses in these puppies to Veterinary Public Health immediately (213-989-7060 or

For more information on dog importations in Los Angeles County please see pages 19 & 20 of the 2013 Veterinary Public Health Manual.

Thank you for your assistance with educating the public about foreign puppy mills and puppy importation problems.  Please let us know if you have any questions.

Karen Ehnert, DVM, MPVM, DACPVM
Director (Acting)
Veterinary Public Health
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

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