The Veterinary Department, as department resorting under the Department of Public Health, supervises the laws regarding animal wellbeing and health. The Veterinary Department has to make sure the laws are abided to prevent the community against zoonosis; animal transmitted diseases like rabies and COVID-19, but also to protect the endemic fauna and animals from infectious diseases like Parvo and screwworms. The Veterinary Department works in close collaboration with the Customs Department to enforce the animal import law and the protection of the entire community.
Anyone planning to travel abroad with a pet should gather all information required by the destination country to comply with their laws since each country has its laws regarding the import of animals.
The Aruba law prohibits the import of animals from South and Central America including Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba since many years ago. Recently the media published the case of an individual who tried to import a dog illegally from Colombia, one of the countries on the restricted list.
This case started 2 weeks ago when the passenger traveling back from Colombia was stopped with an illegal dog. The Customs officer correctly denied entry to the dog and informed the owner accordingly about the law. Under normal circumstances, these animals are sent back with the same flight to the country of origin, however, in this particular case, it was not possible. The Veterinary Department was informed and confiscated the dog. Since the confiscation date, the dog was quarantined and the owner provided with the opportunity to arrange for the dog to be returned to Colombia. Unfortunately, the owner did not seize the given opportunity to send the dog back.
The law indicates that dogs from any of the restricted countries are exclusively allowed when moving to Aruba.
There are strict conditions attached, the dog has to be a member of the household for at least 6 months before moving to Aruba. Contrary to the statements made by the owner, Customs and the Veterinary Department verified that the dog did not meet the requirements to enter Aruba. It did not have the required vaccines and needed tests and neither can be considered part of the household. For a pet from South American origin to be considered a member of the household, it needs to undergo a strict and long process to guarantee that the pet is healthy and disease-free.
The owner in the above-mentioned case was well aware of the restrictions applied for pets coming from South America. The Custom agents and Veterinary department come across similar cases with frequency.
The Veterinary Department emphasizes that it enforces the laws and everyone should adhere to these. They protect the borders against the possible illegal import of pets that can carry infectious diseases and possibly cause epidemics.
The confiscated dog in this case will have to be returned to Colombia to avoid being euthanized. It is the owner’s responsibility to make sure the dog returns. The Vet Department regrets the fact that the owner did not seek all the information before trying to import the dog into Aruba. The laws should be abided and no exception can be made.