Coventry City Council Trading Standards are warning would be purchasers of puppies from abroad to take extra care.
This follows a recent case where an American Bulldog purchased from the Republic of Ireland as a pet, was found to be too young to be legally imported into the UK and, when discovered, needed to be quarantined for four weeks and had to be re-vaccinated against rabies.
The facts came to light when the dog’s new owner took it to a local veterinary surgery for a check-up and the surgeon soon realised that the dog was only eight weeks old - whereas it should have been at least 15 weeks old to have been imported into the UK.
An imported dog also needs to be a minimum of 12 weeks old when it is vaccinated; otherwise there is a danger that the vaccine could be ineffective. A vaccine takes at least 21 days to take effect before an animal is fully protected, if this hasn’t occurred then it undermines the protections in place to stop rabies coming to the UK.
The regulations on animal imports are in place to protect the UK’s rabies free status.
The animal was seized by Coventry Trading Standards and put into quarantine for four weeks - the cost of which had to be paid by the owner before the animal could be returned to him - and was in the region of £800.
When buying a dog from outside the UK you should check that the Pet Passport is correctly completed, check the dates of the vaccination, that all the paperwork tallies up and that the dog is at least 15 weeks old before it travels to the UK. The dog should also be micro-chipped before the rabies vaccination and has had the tapeworm treatment before being imported into the UK.
Cllr David Galliers, Chair of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee said:
“This case has highlighted the need for pet owners to ensure that they are fully compliant with importation rules. The bill for a dog that has had to be quarantined can easily exceed £800 and the owner can ultimately face prosecution.
“More importantly these regulations help ensure that the UK is protected from rabies. Unfortunately, our Trading Standards team are increasingly becoming aware of incidents such as this, primarily as dogs offered for sale abroad can be considerably cheaper than those born here.
“It needs us all to take extra care, and if you are considering buying a dog from abroad take time to check the documentation, buy from a reputable supplier, check the animals history and if you have any doubts speak to a vet before buying it”.
Full details of how the Pet Passport system can be found at www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/overview the website has all the important information needed for anyone looking to import an animal.