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Quarantine rules for dogs changed

Posted by: Tim Berrisford  Date: 24/10/2013   Category: Pet Health

There have been changes made to the countries Pet Travel Scheme, which has now brought them in line with the rest of European however now means that animals coming from the EU, US and Australia no longer need to have a blood test before entering the UK and they are only held for 21 days after their vaccination.

This is a worrying fact considering the incubation period for rabies can go beyond 21 days which therefore means a dog that enters the UK could potentially have the disease rabies. The previous system that was in place saw animals being micro chipped, blood tested and vaccinated. They were then kept for six months and if they were seen as clear could then enter the UK, eliminating any chance at all of them still having rabies.

“For something as important as rabies you really want to know that the vaccine has worked,” Professor Sheila Crispin, former president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, told a 5 live investigation.
The amount of dogs entering the country from abroad has increased hugely by over 60% and the UK now sees almost 140,000 dogs entering the country each year since the change of law. This has also resulted in the number of dogs being illegally smuggled into the UK increasing also by over 400 percent. Dogs entering the UK could be being brought over as puppies and dogs with a future of being sold in the UK as a family pet. This is a risk that many potential owners would not know about when they purchase the dog.

Whilst this change in the law has disappointed people it is being said that the risk of rabies catching from animal to human is low and people should not be worried by this change. Smugglers will find bringing dogs from abroad to the UK exceptionally simple which a wait of only 3 weeks rather than 6 months like it used to be. This is thought to be the reason why the population of dogs in the UK has soared.

Animal owners and charities are concerned about the effects that dogs potentially with rabies can enter the country so some animal charities will now be offering the rabies jab to their staff if the staff wanted to this to ensure their health and safety. But the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said the risk of a dog with rabies entering the UK was still extremely low. “We continue to monitor the situation and will undertake a further, formal risk assessment if we feel that it is warranted.” The last case of a rabid dog in the UK outside of quarantine was in an animal imported from Pakistan in 1970, the Department said.

Whilst the chance of a dog having rabies and a dog with rabies passing it onto a human are both considerable low, it is still possible. With dog health a topic that affects everyone, whether they own a dog or not, we would love to hear your views on this.