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Puppy imports must be healthy and 6 months old due to new USDA regulations

Close up of puppies when the BAWA team gives vaccinations during an outbreak of rabies on Dec. 2, 2010 in District Karangasem, Bali, Indonesia.
Close up of puppies when the BAWA team gives vaccinations during an outbreak of rabies on Dec. 2, 2010 in District Karangasem, Bali, Indonesia.
Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a regulation that will require all imported puppies to be at least 6 months old, healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations.

The department said Friday that Census Bureau data show about 8,400 puppies a year were imported without regulation between 2009 and 2013.

The Humane Society of the United States believes the numbers are actually higher, like tens of thousands a year.

Deborah Press of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says most of the puppies are flown in from puppy mills in China and Eastern Europe.

Both agencies get calls every year from people who buy the puppies only to have them die of illness.

Under the new regulation, violators can be fined $10,000.

USDA: Puppy imports must be healthy, 6 months old