18 December 2013
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 vet's bill or risk bringing diseases into Jersey, or both.
Controls on pet movements, which are in place to protect human health, radically changed some years ago in the UK and Europe when improved rabies vaccines became available and cases of the disease fell throughout the EU. But since last year's introduction of further changes to pet travel rules in the UK, there has been a rise in the trade of imported animals and a consequent increase in the risk of introducing disease, including rabies.
In Jersey there has 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 checks and only one was quarantined. This year, up to October, 1,969 pets arrived, 98 failed the checks and 10 were quarantined at the owners’ expense.
Rabies is a fatal disease that affects all mammals, including humans, and is present in Eastern Europe and many countries worldwide. Globally, 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.
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," she said. “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.
“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.”
Advice for pet owners
Sources of information for would-be pet owners include veterinary surgeons, the Kennel Club of Jersey website.