As the threat of a no-deal Brexit looms larger, pet owners are becoming increasingly worried that their pet passports, allowing a dog, cat or ferret to go on holiday to the EU from the UK, will no longer be valid.
This is because the UK would legally become an “unlisted third country”, so animals would be required to get a rabies blood test three months before travelling.
And that isn’t good news if you were planning on a trip with your pet on April 1, because you should have already taken your animal to see the vet at the start of January, to be allowed to travel.
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website says if there’s no deal, UK pet passports would not be valid for travel to the EU.
It adds: “The Government is committed to achieving a deal with the EU. But in the event we do not reach an agreement, we have a duty as a responsible government to plan for every eventuality.
“To make sure your pet is able to travel to the EU after 29 March 2019, you should contact your vet at least four months before travelling, to get the latest advice.”
But while the pet passport situation will be troublesome for many British pet owners, the situation has an even bigger impact on Britain’s 5,000 guide dog owners who cannot choose to leave their pets behind because they can’t travel without them.
One guide dog owner tweeted: “Huge issue for Guide Dog Lewis and me as we have an international job.”
The charity Guide Dogs advises: “Guide dog owners wishing to travel to the EU after Brexit should be aware of potential changes which may mean they need to plan further in advance.
“Guide Dogs is seeking further clarification while the outcome of Brexit remains uncertain, but we would urge guide dog owners wishing to travel to the EU after 29 March to visit the Defra website for official advice and discuss requirements with their vet as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, the charity has welcomed its first litter of puppies of the year, born in Solihull, West Midlands.
Guide dog mum Rosie gave birth to nine yellow pups, five boys and four girls, last month at the home of volunteer brood bitch holder Layla Champion.
Layla said: “It’s really lovely. We find it so rewarding looking after Guide Dog pups until they are six weeks old, and you know from an early age the pups are destined to do amazing things.”
Around 1,450 puppies are born each year, most in volunteers’ homes, before passing through the charity’s breeding centre near Leamington Spa at six weeks old for health and temperament checks.