On the 1st of January 2012, the UK is to harmonise the current rules on pet movement with the rest of the European Union.
At present, the UK, Ireland, Sweden and Malta are the only countries exempt from the standard EU pet travel rules – however in January the UK is making the move to adopt these rules. These EU regulations allow the UK to maintain its high levels of biosecurity, but they also have the potential to save pet owners around £7 million in fees.
The roots of the present pet travel scheme (PETS) date back to the 19th century, it was designed for protecting the UK borders from rabies and saw an extended quarantine period. This quarantine period is something that (until January) still exists today.
Owners wanting to bring their pets into the UK from overseas faced seeing their pets in quarantine for up to 6 months. This was to ensure that their pets weren’t bringing any exotic diseases into the country.
Pets Arriving From the EU (and listed non-EU countries such as America – see here for the full list of listed countries):
- Pets no longer have to take a blood test
- Pets must wait 21 days (compared to the previous 6 months) after vaccination against rabies before entering the UK
- Tick treatment is no longer required
- Dogs must be treated for tapeworms before entering the UK – treatment should be with a Praziquantel containing product or similar and should be administered between 1-5 days before entry. This must be recorded in your pet’s passport
- Microchipping, rabies vaccinations and pet passports are all still required to allow your pet to travel to the UK
Pets Arriving From Unlisted Non-EU Countries:
- Previously all pets arriving from unlisted non-EU countries were immediately put into quarantine and vaccinated against rabies upon arrival to the UK – quarantine lasted 6 months
- Now requirements are similar to pets arriving from the EU
- Animals must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies
- Documentation must be provided (Pet passport or a third country certificate)
- Tick treatment is not required and tapeworm treatment is as above
- 30 days post vaccination a blood test must be taken – after receiving a satisfactory result, the pet must wait 3 months before entering the UK
The new scheme certainly makes pet owners travelling with their pets from the EU (and listed countries) to the UK easier, however there is still a 3-month waiting period (technically 4 months due to the waiting period following vaccination). This is still much better than waiting 6 months at least!
Our understanding of rabies is now much greater and the incidence of rabies in dogs is now virtually zero in the majority of the EU. Seeing as the PETS scheme was primarily created to protect the UK from rabies entering our shores, it makes sense to relax the restrictions.
Some mathematical models have been used to predict the possible spread of rabies through the UK with these new, relaxed rules – the result was: only one dog per 211 years was likely to be diagnosed with rabies.
There is however, an increased possibility of other diseases reaching UK shores. Tick and other pests can carry diseases which could be brought over on pets travelling to the UK. These relaxed rules are thought to be responsible for an outbreak of canine babesiosis in the UK.
What are your opinions on these new rules? Do you think relaxing them is a good idea? Do you think they haven’t been relaxed enough? Feel free to leave your comments below.