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Curb the dangers from overseas rescue dogs brought into Britain, says minister

Stray dog from Romania
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Currently there are no restrictions in place to screen incoming dogs brought to the UK from shelters across Europe. The Government, however, is considering introducing new laws to govern this.

By Nick Whittle , 24 Jun 2019

The trade in these dogs is growing as are nationwide concerns about the possibility of their introducing foreign diseases to native animals.


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Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove recently received a letter from Hove MP Peter Kyle. He outlines a recent case of one of his constiuents.

Izzie Blanden, who recently received a stray dog from Romania, discovered the animal was carrying heartworm and Lyme disease.

According to The Daily Mirror Mr Kyle’s letter to Gove was blunt and urgent: “I urge you to consider imposing further restrictions on organisations which re-home rescue animals from outside the UK, in order to protect those adopting the animals and safeguard our population of both animals and humans from diseases from abroad.

Trojan dogs

Lyme disease is a blood borne illness that is transmitted by ticks. Lyme disease can make dogs and humans very poorly.

It is not just Lyme disease that is of concern to authorities. After all, Lyme disease is also native to the UK.

The British Veterinary Association warns that “Trojan dogs” - a term it uses for strays from some European countries - may carry all sorts of germs with them. The BVA is concerned that those bringing dogs to the UK do not know the history of the dog nor are they aware of the types of canine diseases prevalent in the country of origin, such as leishmaniasis, rabies and canine babesiosis.


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Mr Gove’s minister replied to Mr Kyle with an acknowledgement of the growing problem. He added that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will look at recommendations from the British Veterinary Association.

Defra is considering options for additional enforcement controls,” Mr Gove’s minister wrote, “and carrying out a risk assessment for rabies “Imported ticks and tick-borne diseases, and the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs also promised to work with animal welfare groups to raise standards and “inform prospective owners of the pitfalls of homing a dog or puppy from outside the UK.


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