Two recent cases of rabies in the Netherlands have sparked fear that it may be a case of when, not if, the disease hits British sores.
The four-month-old puppies were brought to the Netherlands from Bulgaria. They were part of the same litter and appeared to be travelling with the correct paperwork.
The cases bring into question how at risk Britain is of the disease and whether we are doing enough to prevent an outbreak.
The regulations for bringing dogs and cats into the country have recently changed. Animals arriving from the EU and a number of approved countries still need to be vaccinated against the disease, but no longer require a blood test to see if the vaccine is effective. And whereas animals once had to wait six months after the vaccination to travel, they now only have to wait three weeks.
British Veterinary Association President Robin Hargreaves said:
“This is deeply worrying news and far too close for comfort. It must be a wake-up call to UK authorities to ensure that enforcement of pet movements into the UK remains a priority.”
“The Government must review current enforcement of the legislation and be certain that we have the right measures in place to protect the UK’s rabies-free status.”
“The news from the Netherlands should also be a serious wake-up call to potential pet owners who must always ask about the animal’s background and ask to see it with its mother.”
The Government says even with the system of relaxed controls, the risk of rabies coming into the UK is still extremely small.