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Friday, July 23, 1999 Published at 22:09 GMT 23:09 UK


First pet passport issued

Passports for pets are due to come in by spring 2001

A dog called Cassis has become the first pet to enter the UK legally since 1901 without a six-month quarantine.

Tony Blair waived the strict quarantine laws personally to allow cancer sufferer William Dowell, 15, to bring back his pet dog after the boy wrote to him.

William, of Coniston, Cumbria, had been in France since June 1998 having treatment for cancer and a kidney transplant in Lyons, France.

Special dispensation

Cassis, a Pyrenean mountain bitch, was taken out in August, and William was distraught at the thought of leaving her in quarantine on the way back.

Mr Blair made special arrangements for Cassis to enter Britain under the Passport for Pets scheme, which comes into force next year.

William thanked Mr Blair and said he hoped the reform would be speeded up for other pets.

"I don't think she would have coped in quarantine. She would have stopped eating," he said. "When I've come out of hospital only after a week, she goes mad jumping up on me. So I don't know how she would cope.

"Six months without her is too long really. She's vaccinated, she's not got rabies, she's safe."

'Happy to assist'

He added: "She certainly cheers me up when I'm upset and she's my companion."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture said: "We are happy to be able to assist in this deserving case."

The pet passport system will be fully implemented by spring 2001 and a pilot scheme introduced by April 2000.

The new system will apply to pet animals entering the UK from western Europe or from rabies-free islands after they have been vaccinated against rabies, blood tested, microchipped and given a health check before entry.

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