With the UK’s departure from the EU just five months away, pet owners who wish to travel with their pets should start planning now. The current non-commercial Pet Travel Scheme (aka pet passport scheme) may not exist post-Brexit. At the moment pet owners can apply for passports that enable their dogs, cats and ferrets to travel to EU countries, without quarantine, provided the animals have had a rabies vaccination and they are wormed and microchipped.
A likely post-Brexit scenario is that owners will need to prove that their pets are free of rabies, rather than simply vaccinate against the disease. This will involve a three-month waiting period in the country that they intend to travel from. So, it is advisable for any one wishing to travel with their pet after March 2019 to speak to their veterinarian as soon as possible, so that any vaccinations and blood tests can be planned, and so that they can incorporate the three-month waiting period.
However, there is a positive aspect to greater restrictions on pet travel – it will limit the importation of very young puppies to the UK from puppy farms in Europe, and in particular from Southern Ireland and Eastern European countries such as Lithuania.
Research undertaken by the Dogs Trust shows that puppies as young as six weeks old are separated from their mothers, and then transported hundreds of miles in suitcases or other unsuitable containers.
The run up to Christmas will see a huge surge in demand for puppies and unscrupulous breeders will be prepared to make as much money as they can in this period. Once in the UK puppies are often sold as UK-bred ones, with paperwork that is amended or forged.
It’s bad enough that very young puppies are transported in this way, but another very worrying trend is the popularity of so-called ‘tea-cup’ dogs. It seems that the smaller the Chihuahua, French Bulldog, Dachshund or Pug the better when it comes to sales – and unscrupulous breeders are using the runts of litters to breed from in order to create smaller and smaller dogs.
Breeding from poor stock has numerous health implications for the puppies, but this doesn’t seem to deter buyers and the trade in such dogs is set to flourish.
The alternative, of course, is to rescue a dog either from the ManxSPCA or a charity like the Dogs Trust or the RSPCA in the UK. We might not have many ‘tea-cup’ dogs for adoption, but we do have lovely family pets looking for their new homes.