Tuesday, 9 March 2010


Next time you get asked, "what has the EU ever done for us?" here is one positive response. It's given you the right to take your cats, dogs and ferrets on holiday.

Amazingly, that is exactly what the British want to do; 60% of all the pets travelling under the EU's Pets' Passport scheme are British! Maybe the numbers are swelled by all those ex-pats with houses in Spain.

In the European Parliament we have just been reviewing and updating the scheme. It's been a great success. Onerous quarantine arrangements that were miserable for pets and owners have been cast aside so long as the animal has a 'passport' (probably an embedded microchip) that proves it has been vaccinated against rabies.

Meanwhile the incidence of rabies across Europe has continued to fall from 2,679 recorded cases in animals in 1990 to just 251 in 2008, with NONE attributable to animals with passports.

To add to the good news the EU scheme is a development of one first introduced in the UK. Our 'Pet's Travel Scheme' started up on 28 February 2000, with the first animal to be issued with a passport being a dog called Frodo Baggins. Some 660,000 pet 'journeys' have been made since then.

I'm disappointed to learn that there aren't more ferrets on the move. Ferret fanciers came to me a few years ago to press their case and we won, although it was problematic. The trouble is that ferrets can be vaccinated against rabies but there is no test to prove that the vaccination has worked. Still, there had been no recorded cases of rabies in domestic ferrets so they got the benefit of the doubt.

There is still a prohibition on the movement of pets to some countries. Portugal, for example, classifies ferrets as 'vermin.'

Still, it could be worse. You wouldn't want to take your cat or dog to China, would you? Not unless you were hungry that is.

No comments: