A MAJOR change in British law – heralding the end of quarantine – means expats with pets in Turkey can get back to the UK quicker, easier and cheaper, it has been announced.
It effectively means that pet owners – as from January 1, 2012 – looking to get back to the UK from the likes of Kusadasi and elsewhere can now get their pets back months quicker than under the current laws.
Currently all pets entering the UK need a blood test to ensure they have been vaccinated against rabies, and this results in quarantine and extra cost.
People travelling with pets in the EU will save around £100 in fees, while those travelling outside the EU will save up to £2,500 in quarantine fees.
Forcing pets to be cooped up in quarantine is no longer necessary because of vastly improved rabies vaccines and treatments.
Under the new rules a pet from an unlisted country – such as Turkey – whether directly or via a non-EU country, will be allowed to enter the UK without quarantine as long as they meet the EU entry requirements:
The pets need to be identified by a microchip, be vaccinated against rabies, have a blood sample taken by an authorised veterinarian at least 30 days after vaccination and three months before travelling to an EU country; have a blood test result from an EU-approved laboratory showing the rabies antibody titre was equal to or more than 0.5 IU/ml and be accompanied by a certificate issued by an official veterinarian certifying compliance with the above requirements.
It effectively means that all the requirements can be done in Turkey and owners and their pets can be back in the UK in four months.
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs states that as pet travel rules for entry to the UK will be the same as the rest of the EU, there is no advantage in entering another EU country before onward transfer to the UK i.e to avoid quarantine.
It states: “Your pet must meet the standard EU entry rules (microchip, travel documentation, vaccination, post-vaccination blood test a month after vaccination, and have served their waiting period of 3 months post-blood test at origin).
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said the changes would save around 100,000 pet owners £7million a year in veterinary fees.
The Environment Department insists the change in the rules will ensure the risk of rabies coming to the UK remains extremely low.
Mary Fretwell, chairman of the Passports for Pets group, which has campaigned for quarantined reform, said the existing rules were ‘highly inconvenient for pet owners and a considerable disincentive to travel’.
Forcing pets to spend six months in quarantine, a practice dating from the 1800s, is no longer necessary because of vastly improved rabies vaccines and treatments.
It’s estimated that the new rules mean there would be one case of rabies in a pet in the UK once every 211 years, with the possibility of a person dying from rabies obtained from a pet once in every 21,000 years.
Ms Spelman said: “The UK’s quarantine system was designed to combat the threat of rabies in the 19th century and has now been left far behind by scientific advances.
“It’s time we changed these outdated rules which have caused hardship to generations of pets and pet owners, and those who rely on assistance dogs, with too many animals cooped up unnecessarily.
“What is needed is a simpler, evidence-based system for protecting the UK from rabies which recognises the actual risk to pets and pet owners.
“The EU’s pet movement scheme has been working very well for nearly a decade, and it makes sense for us to have similar rules.”