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PET owners could save about £7 million in veterinary and quarantine fees following the harmonisation of pet movement rules across Europe, according to Defra.
The harmonised rules, which came into force on January 1, mean that dogs and cats entering the UK from the EU and other listed non-EU countries that have robust veterinary systems still need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies, but there is no longer a requirement for them to have a blood test to ensure that the vaccination has been successful. Animals have to wait 21 days after vaccination before they can travel and do not have to be treated against ticks before entering the UK. However, the UK and three other member states that are currently free from the zoonotic tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis have been allowed to require dogs to be treated with a praziquantel-containing wormer between 120 and 24 hours before they enter the country (VR, December 10, 2011, vol 169, pp 620, 621). Animals travelling from unlisted non-EU countries now have to be vaccinated against rabies, microchipped, blood tested at least 30 days after vaccination and wait three months after the blood sample is taken before they can enter the UK; treatment against tapeworms is also required.
In a press release issued on December 30, just before the new rules came into force, Defra estimates that the changes to the rules mean that each pet owner could save around £100 in vets' fees per person for those travelling inside the EU, while those travelling from outside the EU could save up to £2500 in quarantine fees.
Lord Taylor, the animal welfare minister, commented: ‘From January 1, it will be cheaper and easier to travel with your pets thanks to new rules being implemented as part of the Pet Travel Scheme.
‘Science has made tremendous advances since quarantine was introduced in the 1800s. We now have vastly improved vaccines and treatments but have not updated our old-fashioned systems to reflect this, which places an unnecessary burden on pet owners who need to take their animals abroad.
‘It is about time we made changes that allow pet owners to travel abroad more easily and cheaply while still maintaining our high level of protection against animal diseases. The Pet Travel Scheme has been operating successfully in other countries since 2004 and from January 1 pet owners in the UK will also be subject to its sensible and proportionate rules.’