Pet owners face veterinary bills of up to €300 for vaccinating and microchipping their pets when they want to travel between Ireland and the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
New restrictions on cats, dogs and ferrets travelling between Ireland and the UK will apply if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal on March 29th.
It seems there is no provision in law for an exception to be made for animal movement, of any species, between Ireland and Northern Ireland and that the same rules that apply to third countries will apply to animal movement from any and all parts of the UK to any other EU state, including movement from Northern Ireland to Ireland.
The Department of Agriculture has outlined a number of scenarios that will apply to pet owners after Brexit.
The current situation, allowing free movement of pets between the UK and Ireland (or indeed any EU member state), is that pets must be microchipped, receive a rabies vaccine and be issued with an EU pet passport by their vet.
Three months waiting
Should the UK leave the EU with no deal then in addition to these requirements a pet travelling from the UK to any EU member state, including Ireland, will also be required to undergo a rabies blood test one month after the rabies vaccine and then have to wait three months from the date of the successful rabies blood test before it can travel from the UK to Ireland (or any other EU member state)
In addition, before travelling from the UK to Ireland, another new requirement is that dogs will need to be given treatment against tapeworm by a vet in the UK and for this to be certified in their pet passport or heath certificate.
Veterinary surgeon Alan Rossiter based in Co Wicklow said pet owners planning on travel need to start preparing.
“If the UK crashes out of the EU on the 29th of March without a deal, it is vitally important that pet owners understand that the current straightforward rules regarding pet movement between Ireland the UK will change dramatically.
“In essence the rules that will apply for a pet travelling from the UK to Ireland (and to all other EU states) will fall into the same category as, for example, a pet travelling from Angola. Do not presume you will be able to freely travel with the documentation you already have for your pet.
“If you need clarification, contact your local vet or the department of agriculture, as your pet could be seized and quarantined for up to three months if the new and complex rules are not followed exactly” he said.
Mr Rossiter said after March 29th, pet owners who want to travel from Britain into Ireland will have to give the pet a rabies vaccine, wait a month, and have a blood test performed to confirm the vaccine has worked.
“Then you have to wait three months before you can travel back to Ireland. One to five days before travelling, pet owners will have to visit a vet in Britain to make sure all the paperwork is in order and administer a worming treatment to your dog.”
The rabies blood test costs over €200 and the additional vet visit in Britain could cost up to €75.
“Should there be a no-deal Brexit on March 29th, it seems there is no provision in law for an exception to be made for animal movement, of any species, between Ireland and Northern Ireland and that the same rules that apply to third countries will apply to animal movement from any and all parts of the UK to any other EU state, including movement of all animals – dogs, cats, horses, sheep, cattle, pigs – from Northern Ireland to Ireland.
“How this can be policed along a border that is as long as England is north to south escapes all of us and is a nightmare for our colleagues in the Department of Agriculture who are, in fairness, doing an excellent job trying to deal with the insurmountable problems the UK government are making for all of us on this island,” Mr Rossiter said.
The notice, issued by the Department of Agriculture, does not apply to pet animals transported between Ireland and the UK for commercial reasons such as a change in ownership including rehoming, or a sale.
A survey in the UK has meanwhile revealed British vets have seen a spike in anxious pet owners seeking Brexit travel advice in the last three months.
The poll found 85 per cent of vets have been approached for guidance on travelling with a pet in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of vets reported an increase in Brexit-related inquiries since November, with around 40 per cent seeing a significant spike.
Pet owners have expressed “frustration” and “anger” over Brexit uncertainty, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) said.
The BVA’s February 2019 Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey polled 379 companion animal vets across the UK.
According to the survey, only 48 per cent of vets felt they could answer most of their clients’ questions on pet travel, with many unable to respond to queries in detail due to Brexit uncertainty.
Qualitative responses to the survey revealed pet owners travelling regularly between the UK and EU and from Northern Ireland to the Republic, such as for dog shows or visiting family, are feeling “especially inconvenienced”.
Vets reported some clients are getting rabies testing done in advance, but many are choosing to wait to avoid extra costs. – Additional reporting PA