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What is the true risk of imported dogs to the UK?
  1. P. Boyden, BVetMed, MRCVS
  1. Veterinary Director, Dogs Trust, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ e-mail:

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THE article by Klevar and others (2015), summarised on p 672 of this issue of Veterinary Record, raises some interesting concerns that also apply to the UK. The researchers compared rabies titres of stray dogs imported into Norway from Romania, Hungary, the Balkans or the Baltic countries in 2012 against a control group of owned dogs from Sweden. The findings indicated that 53 per cent of the imported dogs had inadequate rabies titres at the point of testing.

It is important to note that one cannot assume that a low titre is not protective, especially given that the sampling was done four to six months after vaccination. Furthermore, previous larger scale studies have shown differences between vaccines; sample size might be a factor in why it was not a finding here. Nevertheless, the questions posed in terms of disease risk raise some genuine concerns for the equivalent situation in the UK.

So what is the significance of 2012? January 1, 2012 heralded a major change to the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Before that point, dogs entering a rabies-free country (such as the UK) had to be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, blood tested a month later and were allowed to travel six months after the date of the successful blood test (with a tick and tapeworm treatment 24 to 48 hours before entry). After January 1, 2012, dogs had to be microchipped, vaccinated and were then allowed to travel three weeks later with a tapeworm treatment 24 to 120 hours before travel. Travel is also dependent on a Pet Passport being issued and certified with the relevant treatments.

So what was the impact of this? Logistically, it is now much easier to move dogs across Europe. Three weeks after encountering a stray dog …

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