Advice on travelling with your pet from Ireland to the UK

This week on Ireland AM, Pete discusses the issue of transporting pets to the UK.

EU Regulations

Since 1/1/2012, EU regulations have stated that all pets travelling between any EU States need to have a full pet passport including microchipping, rabies vaccination and a three week delay before travel. The regulation was not initially enforced but in recent weeks, government attitudes have changed. Pet owners should now be aware that if they are travelling to the UK with a pet, they should plan carefully in advance, working with their local vet to ensure that they have all of the necessary requirements fulfilled.

Is Rabies vaccination really necessary?

While the microchip/pet passport aspect has a traceability value, the rabies vaccine is entirely unnecessary, since there is no rabies in Ireland, and no rabies in the UK.

The authorities have listened to complaints about this unnecessary vaccine. A derogation is currently being negotiated, which will allow member states with similar rabies-free status (like Ireland and UK) to be exempt from the rabies vaccine aspect. This is not likely to come into force until 1/1/2015, so in the interim, pet owners need to comply with the rabies vaccine. After that date, they hopefully will no longer need to do so.

Change of ownership

The exemption from the rabies vaccine will NOT be allowed when there is a change of ownership of the pet animal when taken from Ireland to UK. So if an animal is being sold by someone in Ireland to someone in the UK, there will be no exemption from the rabies vaccine.

Furthermore, because there is a change in ownership when rescued dogs are transferred from a rescue group in Ireland to a rescue group in the UK (even if the same organisation such as Dogs Trust to Dogs Trust), all rescue dogs are classified in the same group as commercial dog sales, and so the derogation will not be allowed to apply to them.

This will add a significant cost for animal rescue groups and is likely to lead to an increase in the numbers of unwanted dogs being euthanased in Ireland.

In the 1990’s around 30000 dogs were put down every year in Irish dog pounds. This has been reduced to less than 6000 per year,partly due to more awareness of spaying/neutering so less pups being born, but also because many dogs are now taken across to UK where there is a bigger human population and so more chance of finding homes.

Many of these dogs are already microchipped, but if they also have to be vaccinated against rabies and held in boarding kennels for three extra weeks, this is going to add a significant cost to the animal welfare groups. As a result, fewer dogs will be taken to the UK, and because there are not enough homes in Ireland, more dogs will be euthanased.

Campaign for removal of Rabies vaccine requirement

Campaigners are calling for one of two goals:

  1. Removal of the need for any dog (not just pet dogs) to have the rabies vaccine. There is no scientific basis for this to be given. If it is OK for pets not to be vaccinated, why should any dogs be vaccinated?
  2. If there is absolute insistence that all commercially exported dogs need the rabies vaccine, rescue dogs should be made exempt from this classification. They are clearly NOT commercial, and so should not be included.

Bullet points

Dogs travelling to UK now need:

  1. Microchipping
  2. Vaccination against rabies
  3. A three week delay before travel after vaccination
  4. From 1/1/2015, rabies vaccination for pets may no longer be needed
  5. This will add significant costs to animal rescues

Campaigners have two websites and are looking for support

  1. An online petition that viewers can sign
  2. A Facebook page that viewers can “like”

Comments are closed.

Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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