You didn’t really think you could read this column and get away from Brexit, did you? Well, you can’t! Brexit will likely impact on animal health in the same way it impacts on most aspects of our lives. One of the most visible impacts of EU membership on pet welfare was the introduction of the attractive blue “pets passport”. This innovation meant that millions of pet owners could take their dogs on holiday to the continent, and bring them back without having to put them in six months quarantine. It was a great leap forward in pet welfare. Owners had to get their animals vaccinated against rabies, treated for ticks and worms and certified by a vet as fit to travel. And then they could gallivant across Europe and return with their best friend. If there is a no-deal Brexit, these halcyon days could soon come to an end.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, then there will be a change in the Pet Travel rules for UK animals. Pet owners could only travel to the EU with their pet if they follow the EU rules for unlisted Third Countries. These rules are more stringent than the current Pet Travel rules which apply to Lecale pets today. The process could take longer – 4 to 6 months. It is likely that your pet would require a vet to administer a rabies vaccination, and then take a blood test to prove that the vaccination is effective. There would likely be a further delay before you could travel with your pet. NB – pertinent for our readers, this could include travelling to Donegal or Louth with your dog, unless common sense prevails(!).
Your current pet passport would become invalid. Instead of that, a pet could travel to the EU on a single-use Animal Health Certificate (AHC). Details are still being worked out as to the distribution and issuing of the AHCs. Our department of Agriculture (DAERA) advises pet owners to keep up to date with legislation on travelling with their pets at ww.nidirect.gov.uk/Brexit. They also request that prior to travel you make contact with the competent authority in the country of destination before you travel.
So, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, things will get more complicated and expensive for owners travelling abroad with their pet. We don’t really know the full implications yet, and it will take years to work them out. But current advice is to check government websites, consult government agencies in your destination country and keep in touch with your vet. It may take years for an equilibrium to be reached and legislation harmonized to make pet travel as easy as is today. At Downe Vets, we are always on hand with advice should you need it.