The BVA is encouraging vets to report any suspicions about illegally imported pets to relevant local authorities.
The association has partnered with the National Animal Health and Welfare Panel to launch a new compliance flowchart for vets to follow.
The chart is designed to help vets know when and how to report suspected cases of illegal pet imports to relevant authorities.
It should be referred to when a client presents an animal with a pet passport, and aims to help vets navigate client confidentiality, how to report concerns of illegal imports, and an overview of how local authorities are likely to respond.
In previous Voice of the Veterinary Profession surveys, the BVA said that vets found it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to report these concerns to the Trading Standards.
Other concerns included breaching confidentiality, having lack of proof to investigate, a lack of interest from local authorities, and uncertainty over how to report these suspicions.
BVA president, Daniella Dos Santos, said: “Veterinary teams can often be the first to suspect that an animal may have been illegally imported when an owner takes their pet for its first check-up.
“But our surveys have identified a compelling need for clearly defined routes and mechanisms for vets to more easily report suspected cases of illegal import.”
She added: “Our flow chart and supporting guidance aim to empower vets to report any such cases, thus helping to tackle the scourge of illegal importation and protecting animal welfare, both of the imported dogs and the larger canine population in the UK.
“I would encourage veterinary teams to put up the poster in their practices and use it to help report any suspicions to relevant authorities with ease.”
NAHWP contingency planning lead, John Chaplin, said: “Vets are often in the front line when it comes to identifying suspect illegal imports and the recent BVA survey has highlighted a lack of clarity on how any concerns can be reported.
“Local authorities are tasked with responding to potential breaches of the pet passport rules and work closely with the Animal and Plant Health Agency to quickly respond to all suspect cases.”
He added: “Dealing with a client whilst trying to understand the rules can be a difficult and complex process, however the guidance and flowchart formulated in partnership with BVA will provide a useful tool to enable vets to quickly identify and report concerns.”