Risk from importing pets

THE States Veterinary Officer is warning people who are thinking of buying or re-homing a dog from mainland Europe or beyond that, unless they get it from a reputable source, they could end up with a big bill from the vet or risk bringing in diseases, or both.

Controls on pet movements, which are in place to protect human health, were radically changed throughout the UK and Europe some years ago following the availability of improved rabies vaccines and a significant reduction in the incidence of rabies throughout the EU.

But since the introduction of further changes to pet travel rules in the UK last year, pet movements have increased, along with a rise in the trade of imported animals and a consequent increase in risk in introducing disease, including rabies. Rabies is a fatal disease that affects all mammals, including humans, and is present in Eastern Europe and many countries worldwide. Globally, approximately 60,000 people are infected and die of rabies every year although effective vaccination gives good protection. Other diseases, not present in Jersey, can also be imported with animals, even though they may appear healthy at the time of import.

This is reflected in Jersey where there’s been a big increase in the number of pets travelling from Europe. In 2009 1,214 pets were brought in, of which 63 failed the various checks that need to be done by the approved carrier and only one pet was quarantined. This year, up to October, 1,969 pets arrived, 98 failed the checks and 10 were quarantined at the owners’ expense. States Vet Linda Lowseck says the pet travel scheme was introduced to let existing pet owners travel with their dogs, cats or ferrets. Animals being traded or re-homed have to be imported with additional controls because, unlike family pets, their history is not known. 'If you’re considering buying or re-homing an animal from outside of Jersey, please talk to your vet or get the relevant information to ensure it’s coming from a reputable source.

'Otherwise, you could end up importing a puppy or adult dog that will need expensive veterinary treatment, or worse, you could introduce a disease to your family and to Jersey.' Mrs Lowseck added: 'Happily, Jersey is free of rabies, but we all need to be aware of the risks and make sure we follow the pet travel scheme rules. Import controls are taken very seriously.'

Sources of information for would-be pet owners include veterinary surgeons, the Kennel Club of Jersey and the JSPCA. Others are: * Kennel Club website http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/getting-a-dog-or-puppy/ * British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation puppy advice. http://www.bva-awf.org.uk/pet-care-advice/buying-puppy More information on travelling with pets can be found on the States of Jersey website. www.gov.je/Pettravel 3. For information on importing animals for sale or re-homing email rva@gov.je