India's stray dogs are being locked out by a US ban on adoptions

Jill Trail with her dog, Pihu, a double amputee whom KAW rescued from the streets.

(CNN)When Jill Trail first met Pihu, a frail 6-week old puppy, in India she knew she needed her care. Living on the streets, Pihu had suffered spinal injuries and infections so bad that both hind legs had to be amputated.

There was one problem: Trail lived in the United States.
She decided that didn't matter. So, last year she worked with non-government organizations to bring the puppy to the US and ultimately adopted her. Today, Pihu is a healthy, wheelchair-bound puppy with a loving home.
    "People say to me all the time, 'God bless you for taking a dog like that,'" says Trail. "But I'm the lucky one. There's no sacrifice on my part. Pihu is just so inspirational and packed with personality."
      But since July 14 this year, similar rescue tales are no longer possible. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a temporary suspension, with no set duration, on importing dogs from over 100 countries -- including India.
      Pihu in her wheelchair.
      The CDC says the ban is necessary to reduce the risk of rabies following a spate of falsified rabies vaccination certificates. But the move is a problem for charities across India like Kannan Animal Welfare (KAW), which often helps find overseas homes for India's stray dogs -- including Pihu.
      It can be hard to find a suitable home for stray dogs in India. Many are physically and mentally disabled after suffering trauma and abuse and need a carer committed to their rehabilitation.
        KAW's founder, Vandana Anchalia, says in India stray dogs are perceived to be dirty, unattractive and difficult to train -- and most Indians prefer to adopt pedigrees.
        NGOs worry the restrictions could mean fewer dogs make it to safety -- and many more will be left languishing on India's streets.

        Sending dogs abroad

        Anchalia founded KAW in 2015 after learning more about the cruelties faced by India's estimated 60 million street dogs.
        KAW was started as a rehabilitation center for stray dogs that were offered for local adoption after treatment. Soon, Anchalia and her team discovered that these dogs, many of whom were physically disfigured or disabled, had a better chance of finding a home abroad.
        An employee at KAW interacts with rescued strays at the KAW shelter.
        In the past six years, KAW has sent about 115 rescued street dogs to the US, in partnership with US-based NGOs Operation Paws for Homes and Twenty Paws Rescue. These US-based organizations determine which dogs are the right fit, then KAW sends the dogs by cargo or with a flight volunteer to the shelters, where they are adopted.
        "We have to (send dogs abroad) to maintain (lower) numbers at the shelter ... if we don't ... we can't admit new dogs. We can't overcrowd our shelter," says Anchalia.
        Peedu's People, an NGO registered in Texas and Punjab, has sent close to 90 dogs with special needs to the US over the past five years. Most dogs are included in its "street foster" program where dogs are vaccinated, sterilized and monitored by a resident who feeds them.
        When dogs are injured too badly to survive independently on the streets, Peedu's People tries to rehome them abroad -- something they can't do under the new CDC rules.
        The organization already has a "backlog of puppies who need to go overseas, because they have no chance of surviving on the roads in India," says founder Inder Sandhu.
        Deb Jarrett, founder of Dharamsala Animal Rescue (DAR), based in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, says it costs around $3,000 to send a dog to the US for adoption, paid for by the charity or the adopter.
        Sandhu says the ubiquity of these street dogs had desensitized many Indians to their plight.