Rabies is an extremely distressing disease which can pass from animals to people and still occurs occasionally on mainland Europe. The UK has been very effective in keeping rabies out through quarantine and more recently through the Pet Travel Scheme.
The Pet Travel Scheme was established some years ago to allow owners to travel to certain countries with their pet and re-enter the UK without quarantine restrictions. The scheme has been popular with people holidaying abroad and those with a second home overseas. Vets that have completed the LVI training are licenced by the UK authorities to issue pet passports. We have issued passports to several hundred animals in the Huddersfield area.
To obtain a Pet Passport there are a few steps you must follow:
- Firstly your pet must be permanently identified. In most cases this means he must have a microchip fitted. If he already has a chip, so long as the chip conforms to certain standards, he will comply.
- Next he must have vaccination injections against Rabies. This is an injection into the scruff of his neck just like his annual shot and is very safe. We must then wait for a couple of weeks to allow his immunity to Rabies to develop.
- The third step is to blood sample him. The sample is taken from the vein in the front leg and is sent to an EU-approved laboratory. The lab measures the antibody response to the vaccination to determine your pet’s level of protection from Rabies. A report is sent to your vet from the laboratory.
So long as the level of protection from Rabies is above a required level, your Vet can issue a passport which is a small book (similar to your own passport) containing details of the pet, the vaccinations it has had and the blood test results.
This book is shown to the authorities at the border controls as proof that the pet does not pose a risk as a carrier of rabies.
These steps must be carried out well in advance of first travelling because the passport only becomes valid 6 months after the date of positive blood sampling ( this is because the incubation period between an animal contracting rabies and first showing signs can be up to 6 months) This means that you need to plan your first trip well in advance.
Once your pet has a valid passport a booster vaccination within the required time frame (usually every 3 years) is sufficient to avoid the need for repeat blood tests.
Contact your vet for further information or go to the DEFRA website.