Sunday, 28 September 2014


As my nod to the fact that it's World Rabies Day today  (the 28th September), I'm taking a look at the changes to pet travel legislation that comes in at the end of this year.

There's a very good overview of the current situation here, care of The Animal Welfare Blog but, in brief, Rabies-susceptible animals are prevented from entering the UK unless they have an import license, or are exempt from needing a licence because they are being moved under the Non-Commercial Movement of Pets Order 2011, which mainly covers animals travelling under the EU Pet Travel Rules.

As of 29th December 2014, the Pet Travel rules are being slightly updated to strengthen enforcement of compliance with the rules and to harmonise the rules across EU countries. There will be a new style of passport with more detail in it, but if the animal already has a passport it doesn't need to get a new one (unless all the treatment spaces in it get filled in). The new passport needs the vet to fill out their details on the passport, and include their contact details when certifying vaccinations and treatments.

The other changes are:

All countries in the EU are now required to carry out checks on pet movement. As such, it's likely there will be more checking of passports at other borders, and the animal must be fully compliant with the terms of the travel rules before leaving the UK. This means that the Rabies vaccinations must be carried out 22 day before the travel date (vaccination date is day 0, and then there needs to be 21 days between vaccination and travel)

A minimum age for travel - under the old rules, the puppy or kitten had to be 12 weeks before the vaccination was given, because there are no vaccinations available for animals under that age. However, individual countries could allow in unvaccinated animals under that age that were travelling with their mother or had never left their place of birth and so couldn't have been exposed to Rabies. Whether to keep this option is now under discussion, primarily because it could only apply from one Rabies-free EU state to another, and definitions of "Rabies-free" vary.

Transporting of more than five animals now needs to take place from a registered place, using an authorised transporter and with their movement logged on the TRACES system (the EU import and animal movement tracking system). However (as before) this is not required if the animals are travelling to shows though owners will now need to carry evidence of the need for the exemption (details of the show and of their entry) and may be asked to sign a declaration that the animals are eligible to make use of this exemption.[NB as of August 2014 the exact nature that this declaration will take is still being finalised]

If the animal travels separately from the owner (eg by freight) pet and owners now need to travel no more than five days apart - at the moment there is no time constraint

Finally, the definition of animals allowed to travel under the Pet Travel Rules has been updated to make it specifically the domestic dog (Canis lupis familiaris), domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) and domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo). This is to prevent wild animals being moved under rules designed for pet transport. In practice, this will only affect owners of hybrid animals such as wolfdogs, or owners of certain cat breeds such as the Bengal (Felis lybica) or Savannah (Felis catus x Leptailurus serval)

More detail on the changes is available from DEFRA for pet owners, and for vets from the BVA.

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