Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Ferret-lovers rejoice! EU drops limits on pet movements

By Ethan Bilby

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Having a hard time getting your dogsled team through the border? European Union lawmakers aim to help.

EU member countries broadened a law governing the movement of pets on Monday, removing a limit of five pets per person crossing a border - if owners can prove their animals will take part in a competition, exhibition, or sporting event.

The legislation adds to the European Union's "pet passport" scheme, where Fido, Whiskers, or even a favored ferret can move freely through the 27-member bloc if it has microchip identification and has been vaccinated against rabies.

Pet-lover and member of the European Parliament Chris Davies, who helped draft the new law, said it showed the EU could ease burdens on citizens, instead of adding to them. Just 10 years ago it was not easy take a dog on a family car holiday.

"The great thing about this piece of legislation is it just confirms that the legislation produced a decade ago has worked very successfully," he said. "There has been no increase in rabies or apparent risk of increase (of human infection)."

The five-pet limit was imposed to prevent unrestricted cross-border trade by puppy farmers. But Davies said the relaxed rules offered owners the chance to take pets abroad to compete or for "sexual liaisons", while keeping oversight to prevent abuse.

"We have freedom of movement and freedom of capital and all that sort of stuff. We also have freedom of pet movement," he said before adding, "as well as human movement".

The travel documents must be issued by an authorized veterinarian and should also specify a pet's health status.

Davies said he had not himself had the chance to try the pet-passport rules.

"I've got a couple of cats, and they've shown no inclination to travel as of yet."

(Reporting by Ethan Bilby, editing by Paul Casciato)

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