For some people Brexit is about immigration; for others, it's about solving the Irish border problem; and for even more others it’s about securing strong trade deals that will prevent an economic collapse.
Luckily for us, Chief European commissioner, Jean-Claude Junker has kept his eye on the really important issue - how Brexit will affect the movement of our pets.
As it stands, a dog, a cat, or even your pet ferret, can travel between the UK and Europe without being quarantined, as long as they have a valid passport and have been microchipped. However, if Britain exits the European Union with no deal in place, up to 250,000 cats and dogs could find themselves on lock-down. Being the proud owner of a rescue pup called Plato, Mr Junker has taken a personal interest in the doggy passport scheme. Mina Andreeva, a commission spokeswoman, said: “I think President Juncker, having personally mentioned the issue several times, then it is something that is very close to his heart, so we are not only for the free movement of people, but for the free movement of pets.” But for that to happen, a deal needs to be struck.
What happens if there's no deal?
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has already warned that “a failure of the negotiations would have many consequences, including the ability of dogs and cats to cross the Channel.” UK residents make over 20m visits to Europe each year, and many take their pets with them. However, with no agreement in place, tourists might become unwilling to make the trip across the channel. And long stays in quarantine or border checks are only part of the issue. Without the option of taking their pets abroad, many owners will have to look at alternative options like dog-sitters or boarding kennels. The cost of a two-week stay in a boarding kennel can vary between £189-250. For owners with more than one pet, the cost of boarding could be just as expensive as the holiday.
However, a few solutions have already been proposed. As it stands, the EU makes a distinction between listed and unlisted countries. Listed countries are those that have robust systems for monitoring and reporting animal health issues, such as rabies. Pets from listed countries, like the USA and Japan, can travel if they have the correct paperwork and health certificates from a vet. They also have to prove they’ve been tested for rabies within the last three months. Theoretically, Britain could be added to the list. Although, like all Brexit negotiations, nothing has been confirmed and there are no guarantees. Another possible solution is a deal where UK pet passports are seen as an equivalent to the EU pet passport. Again, this will come down to negotiations between the UK, the EU, and its regulators.
Last chance for a deal
The 21st of January 2019 is the legal cut-off date for a deal to be presented to the British government. In the meantime, let's keep out fingers crossed and hope that the politicians do what's right for our pets.