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Pet travel
European Council adopts new pet travel rules

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THE Council of the European Union has adopted a regulation to facilitate the non-commercial movement of pet animals in the EU. It says the new regulation builds on the success of the pet passports legislation introduced in 2003 and will mean that dogs, cats and ferrets accompanying their owners will have more opportunities to travel across EU borders and into the EU.

Under the current rules for the non-commercial movement of pets, people are not allowed to cross borders with more than five dogs, cats or ferrets at once, a restriction that was considered necessary to prevent or discourage any abuse of the rules for commercial purposes. However, under the new legislation, owners may be exempted from the limit if they can prove that they are taking part with their animals in a competition, exhibition or sporting event.

The new legislation, which lays down clearer rules on pet identification, documentation and vaccination against rabies, was adopted by the European Council on June 18. It will come into force once it has been formally signed and published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The new arrangements apply 18 months after it comes into force.

■ A dog that had attacked several people in Toledo, Spain, was confirmed to have rabies on June 5. The dog, which is thought to have contracted the disease in Morocco, tested positive after being captured and euthanased. Public Health England reported on June 14, on the basis of information received from the Spanish authorities, that areas considered to be at an increased risk of rabies included a perimeter of 20 km radius around the city of Toledo, the municipality of Monzón, the district of Sant Martí of Barcelona and the municipalities of Banyoles and Porqueres. It urged anyone who has been bitten, licked or scratched by a dog in these areas since May 1 to seek medical advice.

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