Many owners of rescue dogs imported into the UK believe they arrive through the European Union Pet Travel Scheme, which has less stringent requirements than the EU Balai Directive, which should be applied for these animals, according to a survey by the University of Liverpool.
The EU Pet Travel Scheme is intended only for pets of known health history travelling with their owner, but the study suggests over 300,000 dogs imported under the scheme does not fall into this category.
The study reported 34% of dogs were imported from Romania, followed by Cyprus with 22% and Spain (19%). 92% respondents said they had adopted a rescue dog through an organisation with 40% of which were based abroad.
Owners thought that most of the dogs (89%) had been imported through the EU Pet Travel Scheme. Only 1% of respondents indicated the EU Balai Directive, despite one in five saying they had looked at UK government website information on the correct procedures.
President of British Veterinary Association President, Daniella Dos Santos, said: “This important study demonstrates the pressing need for stricter pet travel laws and more stringent enforcement to safeguard the health and welfare of both animals and the wider public in the UK.
“Vets are concerned about cases of new or rare diseases they are seeing in practice, such as leishmaniasis, ehrlichiosis, and heartworm. These are associated with rescuing so-called ‘Trojan dogs’ with unknown health histories from abroad.”
She added: “Our advice to anyone thinking of rescuing a dog is to consider adopting a dog from a UK rehoming charity or welfare organisation instead or financially supporting organisations abroad to rescue and rehabilitate stray animals locally.”