As many pet owners prepare to take their pets abroad this summer our vets at Donaldsons have seen a big increase in the number of Pet Passports we are issuing; the Pet Passport scheme is designed to keep your pet safe from Rabies and eliminate the risk of introducing Rabies to the UK.

Meanwhile, the death of a rabies infected dog in France this week is a stark reminder of the importance of complying with the requirements of the Pet Passport scheme. The dog, a seven-month old bull terrier died after biting a family member and a neighbour’s dog, the BSAVA has revealed. The dog was illegally imported from Hungary to France without vaccinations late in December last year. However, it is thought the dog actually became infected with rabies during a subsequent visit to Algeria. Rabies infection was confirmed by the Pasteur Institute after positive test results. Following the case, local restrictions have been imposed on the movement of unvaccinated and unidentified dogs, cats and ferrets until 27 October, 2015. Unvaccinated animals that were in contact with the dog will have to be euthanased and vaccinated animals will be monitored for six months. This case demonstrates the importance of complying with the requirements of pet travel legislation. It is essential that anyone acquiring a dog, cat or ferret from abroad has to be sure that it is fully compliant with the regulations. This case highlights concerns about the potential risk of rabies entering the UK through illegal pet imports.  New rules were implemented at the end of last year in a bid to improve pet passport security and there is now a minimum age of 12 weeks for rabies vaccination. All vets remain vigilant for pets showing clinical signs that could fit within the rabies spectrum, particularly if the pet has recently travelled abroad. Rabies falls within a group of diseases known as “Notifiable Diseases”. Other Notifiable Diseases would include conditions such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Anthrax. Any Vet suspecting a Notifiable Disease must report the case immediately to the closest Animal Health Office and a contingency and containment plan would quickly be actioned.

Pet owners should be reassured that the risks of contracting Rabies while holidaying in Europe with their pet are negligible if they have complied with the obligations of the Pet Passport scheme, however these recent events demonstrate the need to follow the Pets Passport scheme to the letter.

Contact your vet for further information on the Pet Passport scheme and taking your pet abroad this summer.