Sir Roger Gale
Member of Parliament for North Thanet (Margate, Herne Bay & The Villages)
Dogs – tick-borne diseases - pet passport scheme “flawed”
March 22nd 2016
There is a flaw in the Pet Passport scheme that must be corrected, says Patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation Sir Roger Gale.
Speaking following receipt of written answers to two parliamentary questions (below) tabled following and outbreak of Canine Babiosis in Essex the MP has said:
“The first of these answers identifies the likely cause of infection and recommends that pet-owners returning from mainland Europe and those bringing pets into the UK should “treat pet dogs with an appropriate treatment ….prior to bringing them in from Europe”.
The second answer acknowledges that the tick treatment, which was originally and with good reason compulsory as part of the pet passport scheme, has been abandoned in the interests of “harmonisation of pet travels rules”.
We are told that this follows a “qualitative risk assessment”. It is clear, in the light of experience, that that `risk assessment` has underestimated the potential risks to domestic animals in the UK and the likelihood, once again, of the prospect of tick-borne diseases spreading.
We are fortunate that we have, as an island nation, an immunity from some parasitic diseases that are prevalent throughout mainland Europe and it is crazy bot to take advantage of that status and to do our best to protect our animals.
The weight of qualified Veterinary opinion in the UK suggests that this is an issue that needs to be re-visited and the necessary changes made to the regulations before the holiday season recommences : As one who takes his own dogs abroad I have to say that I have noticed no significant difference in the veterinary fees payable to have a pet passport validated with or without tick treatment and in any event I believe that most dog-owners would be more than willing to pay any modest additional charge to help to ensure the safety of our domestic canine population”.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (31269):
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to (a) prevent the spread of the outbreak of canine babesiosis and (b) deter the impact from mainland Europe of infected animals carrying tick-borne viruses. (31269)
Tabled on: 16 March 2016
Experts at the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Public Health England (PHE) are working together to investigate the locally acquired cases of canine babesiosis in Essex. Environmental tick control through vegetation management can be difficult to achieve and the use of acaricides in the environment is prohibited. The most effective control is for owners to treat dogs promptly for ticks.
Ticks are associated with a range of vertebrate hosts, including livestock, wildlife and wild birds, so we cannot prevent all these routes of entry. In addition, several UK species of tick are capable of transmitting various diseases which like Babesia canis are also not notifiable.
Livestock and horses imported from mainland Europe are certified to be healthy and should therefore be free of ticks and we recommend that people treat pet dogs with an appropriate treatment that kills ticks as soon as they attach, prior to bringing them from Europe.
The answer was submitted on 21 Mar 2016 at 17:17.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (31270):
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of potential benefits of re-introduction of tick treatment as a requirement for the importation of dogs from mainland Europe into the UK under the Pet Passport scheme. (31270)
Tabled on: 16 March 2016
The requirement for tick treatment was dropped as part of the harmonisation of the EU pet travel rules for movement and import of non-commercial dogs following a qualitative risk assessment and economic impact assessment for the introduction of Mediterranean Spotted fever (MSF) and the Brown Dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. The answer was submitted on 21 Mar 2016 at 17:43.