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The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"Animal rights groups claim quarantine can be damaging - particularly to dogs"
 real 56k

Lady Mary Fretwell, Passports for Pets
"Now 5,500 cats and dogs have come through legally"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 2 August, 2000, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Pet passports scheme extended

The changes aren't likely to take effect until 2001
The pet passport scheme which allows cats and dogs into Britain without quarantine is to be extended to a further 15 rabies-free islands.

Agriculture minister Baroness Hayman announced on Wednesday the places covered under the extension will include Australia, New Zealand, Bermuda and Hawaii.

Since the end of February, dogs and cats which have been microchipped, vaccinated and tested for rabies have been allowed into Britain without having to spend six months in quarantine.

New countries
Australia
New Zealand
Japan
Singapore
Cyprus
Malta
The Falkland Islands
Vanuatu
New Caledonia
St Helena
Ascension Island
Barbados
Montserrat
Bermuda
Hawaii

So far the scheme has been confined to pets travelling from Western Europe, via ferry to Dover, through the Channel Tunnel or on a small number of services to Heathrow airport.

It is estimated that 1,000 animals a month have entered the UK in this way since the scheme was introduced.

The changes are not likely to take effect until after the New Year, but owners must start preparing now.

Pets which are going to travel under the passport scheme have to be given an identity microchip, be vaccinated against rabies, and undergo a blood test before being issued with a travelling certificate.

"We are announcing the extension early to give pet owners who want to travel further afield time to get ready," said a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture.

Concerns

"By and large, because of the huge publicity campaign we have run, we have found that pet-owners have been very responsible and have arrived with their pets fully prepared."

One disappointment for campaigners against quarantine is that British Airways is still not taking part in the scheme, claiming it is too expensive and complex to run.

Members of quarantine and veterinary associations say it is too soon after the trial scheme to start expanding.


The 'passports' are checked by computer
David Tyson, vice president of the British Veterinary Association, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, he would be concerned if the scheme started immediately.

"The pilot scheme should be evaluated before major changes are implemented," he said.

Mr Tyson said there had been no cases of Rabies in pets travelling to Britain but the scheme was not foolproof.

He said a west highland terrier from Oldham had died of a disease resulting from a tick bite in the Loire Valley when pets are supposed to have tick and tapeworm treatment one or two days before returning to the UK.

Some vets have criticised the fact that border checks are carried out by transport staff rather than qualified inspectors.

The quarantine rules will still apply to animals brought in from North and South America, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

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See also:

03 Aug 99 | UK Politics
Pets' passport to freedom
09 Mar 00 | UK
'Woof' justice for top dogs
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