The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is calling on the government to extend the waiting time post-rabies vaccination to 12 weeks to minimise the risk of rabies entering the UK after Brexit.
Vets at the BVA also say that the extension would simultaneously reduce illegal trade in puppies for sale via the non-commercial route.
The call comes as the BVA has been making recommendations to the government to strengthen legislation governing commercial as well as non-commercial movement of pets and safeguard both animal and public health and welfare.
While it is said that the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) has made pet transport between the UK and other EU countries easy and cost-effective. The ease of pet travel has however raised some legitimate concerns amongst vets, with exotic, zoonotic diseases being brought into the UK via travelling pets and ‘trojan’ rescue dogs with unknown health histories, as demonstrated by the canine babesiosis cases in Essex in 2016.
Vets are also said to be concerned about the illegal importation of puppies into the country through the circumvention of non-commercial pet travel requirements.
BVA president John Fishwick, said: “Whatever agreement we reach with the EU, it is essential that the movement of animals doesn’t translate into the free movement of disease.
“The increase in cases of non-endemic diseases such as babesiosis is of real concern to vets, which is why we are calling on the government to strengthen existing pet travel legislation as well as enforcement for the sake of animal and human health in the UK.”
He added: “Veterinary teams play a frontline role in surveillance for exotic disease incursion and non-compliance with pet travel legislation, so I would encourage my colleagues to continue to report any suspicions to relevant authorities immediately.”