Monday, March 22, 1999 Published at 08:32 GMT
Pet passports on the way
This Rottweiler may soon have a passport
The government is set to scrap the UK's tough quarantine rules and replace them with a system of pet passports and microchips.
A commons statement is expected later this week from Agriculture Minister Nick Brown.
The new scheme would reduce the numbers of animals kept for six months in quarantine as they enter the country.
This costs owners up to £2,000 and often results in heartbreak for owners who miss their pets.
A report in The Times newspaper says the prime minister is behind the idea.
But it believes his deputy, John Prescott, is concerned over the extra burdens that may be placed on airports and ferry companies.
The chips are embedded under a pet's skin and those with a clean bill of health are permitted to travel freely through the country ports.
A campaign group Passports for Pets has been bidding for the UK to adopt similar measures.
But Mr Brown has been at pains to make clear that his "primary concern is to protect the country from rabies" and not to satisfy the demands of pet owners.
The Swedish scheme applies only to animals from other European Union countries, and they are still checked and vaccinated four months after entering the country.