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Friday, September 25, 1998 Published at 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK


UK

Quarantine laws face overhaul

The government hopes to lessen the burden on pet owners

The government has announced a three-month consultation for proposed radical changes to "outdated" quarantine laws.


The BBC's David Sillito: "Welcomed by the RSPCA as kinder to animals"
The proposed reforms would mean the end of the mandatory six-month quarantine period for imported pets.

The Agriculture Minister, Nick Brown, says they would be "the most radical changes to the nation's quarantine laws for almost a century".


Agriculture minister Nick Brown: "The government has no intention of letting rabies into the country"
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The government's priority is to make sure our country remains rabies free. The protection of the public comes first."

Mr Brown said the incidence of rabies in household pets from Western Europe was "virtually non-existent".

Cats and dogs from Europe and rabies-free islands like Australia would be fitted with microchips under the skin.

Owners would have to show that vets had checked the animals the day before they returned, that they were vaccinated against rabies and had been deloused.


Ted Chandler of the British Vetinary Association: "We have to have real, tough enforcement"
Animals from other countries would still have to go through quarantine under present proposals, although the academics who produced a report recommending the changes intend to study the matter further.

The report says up to three years should be allowed before the system is introduced.

It is widely accepted that the compulsory six-month quarantine period for all pets coming from overseas is outdated and cruel both to the animals and to their owners.

Guarantees

Charlotte Morrisset from the RSPCA said: "It is essential to keep the UK rabies free but science now shows that we can have a system - based on blood tests, a vaccination and a microchip - which does really give us those guarantees.


Charlotte Morrisset, RSPCA: 'Pet owners will be delighted'
"Dogs and cats are companion animals - they do need the company of their owners, but not only that - it's also very expensive. Not only it is better for the animals, its better for the owners as well."

The new system is also expected to be cheaper - cutting costs from £1,500 to keep one dog in solitary confinement to around £150 for the first import, plus £30 annually for rabies vaccinations and £30 for each subsequent import.



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Relevant Stories

25 Sep 98†|†UK
RSPCA backs pet passports plan

06 Aug 98†|†UK
Animal lovers press for pet passports

18 Jun 98†|†UK Politics
Quarantine rules branded 'cruel and unfair'





Internet Links

RSPCA

Passports for Pets

Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food - pet quarantine information


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