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EXOTIC and endemic diseases, and the movement of pet animals, formed the main subjects for questions faced by the four chief veterinary officers for the UK during a session at the BVA congress at the London Vet Show last week. Delegates at the congress had the opportunity to ask questions of Nigel Gibbens, CVO for the UK, Christianne Glossop, CVO for Wales, and Sheila Voas, CVO for Scotland, who were joined on the panel by Robert Huey, newly appointed CVO for Northern Ireland, who had taken up the role just 10 days before.
On exotic diseases and pet movements, Harvey Locke, a past-president of the BVA, asked whether it was time for Defra to revisit its risk assessment on the importation of rabies into the UK. He pointed out that this had been carried out before the harmonisation of the EU's rules on pet travel in January 2012 and argued that it had failed to anticipate the resulting large increase in animal movements. Along with this, he said, some ‘criminal elements’ had spotted an opportunity to use the relaxed regulations to illegally import puppies for sale on a commercial basis. In light of the recent reports of rabies in two puppies in the Netherlands and in a kitten in France, should not Defra's risk assessment be reviewed with some urgency?
Mr Gibbens said that the risk assessment had accounted for an increasing volume of pets entering the UK, but agreed that the increase had been ‘very significant’. However, the risk posed by that increase in volume depended on where the animals were coming from. The pet travel rules had a common basis of low-risk origin of low-risk animals. ‘We have to make sure that is secure,’ he said, ‘and we do need to respond to what we find.’ If, for …
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