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Legal Minds

15 August 2018 / by / in

The Brexit Effect: Uncertainty relating to pet passports leaves British pet owners in a state of outrage

With one out of two British households owning a pet and around 250,000 British cats and dogs travelling to the EU every year, thousands of British pet owners, both resident and expat, are becoming increasingly concerned about the Brexit effect on their beloved furry friends.

Currently, cats, dogs and ferrets are subject to special legislation and travelling with them within the EU is regulated mainly by EU laws. This means, in order for your pet to move freely within the EU, your pet must be microchipped and have a valid European pet passport as well as a valid anti-rabies vaccination. The same minimum conditions apply to dogs, cats and ferrets travelling to the EU from a non-EU country. In addition, any animal entering EU territory is subject to border checks and, depending on the rabies status in its country of origin, additional health documentation.

Last year, when the issue first came to light, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, admitted that “a failure of the negotiations would have many consequences, including the ability of dogs and cats to cross the Channel.”

Since then, the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, the proud owner of a Greek rescue dog called Plato, has taken a personal interest in the pet passport scheme and has highlighted the urgency of resolving the matter several times.

The UK environment secretary, Michael Gove, who owns a bichon frise called Snowy and a Lhasa Apso/wire-haired dachshund cross called Muffin, has also taken steps to address the increased concerns in relation to the free movement of pets and has insisted there will be no problem, even if Brexit talks fail.

However, with a no-deal scenario looking increasingly likely, others argue that if Brexit negotiations fail, it will make it harder to travel with pets from the UK to the EU as even though the pet passport scheme includes countries that are not EU members, a deal would need to be done, especially considering the UK’s expected third country status post-Brexit.

Either way, it seems inevitable that travelling pet owners will need to adjust and it is feared that the worst case scenario would mean that British cats and dogs, and many more from the rest of Europe, may need to be quarantined for up to a six month period each time they travel after Brexit.

In the meantime, it is hoped that the Brexit negotiators will continue to take the issue seriously in order to guarantee the free movement of pets and put the British public’s mind at rest.

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