Defra figures show dramatic climb in imports from some countries
Dog imports into the UK have risen dramatically in recent years, according to figures released by Defra.
Commercial imports of dogs from EU countries rose from 1,869 in 2013, to 25,912 in 2015. The number of dogs imported into the UK for non-commercial reasons under the Pet Travel Scheme rose by nearly 13,000 in the same period.
The RSPCA has raised particular concern over the steep incline in dogs imported from Ireland, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland and Romania – all of which are linked with large scale puppy farming operations.
According to Defra’s figures, over 33,000 dogs were imported from these countries for commercial and non-commercial reasons last year, compared to less than 14,000 in 2013 (though figures were not included for Romania and Lithuania in 2013).
Defra minister of state George Eustice released the figures last week in response to a written question from Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse.
Mr Eustice said the majority of pets entering the country have UK passports, suggesting they are returning to the country with their owners after a holiday or trip abroad. However, he added that the data is collated by a range of third parties, generally transport companies, therefore it is not possible for the government to guarantee the accuracy of the statistics.
Pet imports have been a source of rising unease since the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) was relaxed in 2012, allowing dogs, cats and ferrets to enter the UK without quarantine assuming they meet certain conditions.
Many veterinary organisations, animal charities and even Trading Standards have voiced concerns about the increased threat of imported disease – namely rabies – though Defra maintains that the threat is very low.
These fears have only been fuelled by recent undercover work carried out by the Dogs Trust. An exposé last year revealed widespread abuse of the Pet Travel Scheme by criminal groups in Lithuania and Hungary.
Since then, the charity managed to smuggle a toy dog into the UK with a fake passport and microchip on three out of four attempts.
The RSPCA said it was “appalled” by the recent import figures, which it feels shows the “shocking scale of this problem”. The charity is urging the government to take action by improving border checks and increasing accountability and monitoring of breeders.
Responding to the charity, a spokesperson for Defra said: “The UK Government is committed to cracking down on animal traffickers and putting a stop to the abhorrent illegal trade of puppies or abuses of the EU Pet Travel Scheme.
“The UK has one of the toughest pet border checking regimes in the EU. Every pet dog travelling to Britain on an approved route has its microchip and passport checked. We also carry out additional random checks which helps to ensure puppies are properly vaccinated and are old enough to travel.
“We are working with Dogs Trust and Kent County Council to facilitate the rehoming of underage dogs abandoned in quarantine at Dover Port and Eurotunnel.”
Due to the recent Alabama Rot being reported in the Swindon Advertiser we thought we would send you the most recent update available from Anderson Moore’s vets who have been investigating it for nearly three years now. Areas that have been related to cases include, West Woods (Marlborough), Coate Water, Lydiard and Nightingale Woods (South Marston). We would advise washing your dogs after walking or avoid these areas if possible.
More information can be found by clicking the link below.
We have yet to see any cases here in our surgery but if you are concerned and your dog becomes unwell or develops lesions on their skin, occasionally in the mouth which can look like bites, sores or stings then contact us for an appointment.
Over one ton of illegal ivory has been destroyed by the US Government before crowds in New York, sending out a clear message that the nation will not tolerate wildlife crime.
The event, which took place in Times Square, was organised by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC). It was also supported by a host of other wildlife and conservation organisations.
John Calvelli from the Wildlife Conservation Society said: “Crushing ivory in Times Square – literally at the crossroads of the world – says in the clearest terms that the US is serious about closing its illegal ivory markets and stopping the demand.
“We applaud the Fish and Wildlife Service and DEC for their efforts to close this deadly trade that is currently decimating Africa’s elephants at the rate of 96 each day”.
Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, added: “Today the United States sent a strong message that it will not tolerate wildlife crime.
“For Africa’s vanishing elephants, these are the most desperate of times and more needs to be done. Just last month, China – another major consumer market for wildlife products announced it would end its ivory trade. The US must do the same urgently”.
Thousands of supporters watched on as ivory tusks, statues, jewellery, trinkets and other decorative items were crushed by an industrial rock crusher.
It was the latest in a series of actions by the Obama administration designed to address both supply and demand that feeds international poaching and wildlife trafficking rings.
Much of the ivory destroyed was confiscated from an art and antiques dealer in Philadelphia, who was sentenced in 2014 to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay just under $160,000 in fines. Because the ivory was illegally traded, it could never be sold in the US market.
At the first ever congress dedicated to veterinary receptionists, delegates heard an inspirational and useful talk from guide dog owner Judy Taylor, who explained how to provide a positive customer experience for blind and partially sighted clients.
Judy has had guide dogs for nearly 60 years, having lost her sight due to measles at 13 months old. Now aged 80, she is working with her seventh dog, a golden retriever called Elsa.
Speaking at the Cx Congress in Derby (20 June), Judy had delegates laughing one minute and crying the next with her inspiring and poignant story.
At the age of 16 she knew she wanted to become a teacher in a state school, not a special school for blind children, but at that time, no blind person had done this before. Undeterred, Judy was eventually accepted onto a teacher training course two years later, which meant moving to London and getting around by herself.
After her first year she applied for a guide dog, but due to the long waiting lists at the time, it was more than two years before she got her dog, shortly after she began teaching at a small school in Rugby, Warwickshire.
Moving most of the audience to tears, Judy described what having a guide dog has meant to her: “I think that dogs are not only the best guides that a blind person can have, but a dog – whether it’s a trained dog or not – is the very, very best friend in the whole world that a human being can have.
“I owe so very, very much for the almost 60 years that Guide Dogs has given me the wonderful gift of independence.”
In order to help understand what it’s like to be blind or partially sighted, a number of delegates volunteered to put on eye masks and be led into the conference room by Guide Dogs’ staff. All delegates were then asked to wear eye masks for as long as possible during Judy’s talk.
While she said she has had only positive experiences with veterinary practices, she gave examples of a number of small steps staff can take to make it easier for blind or partially sighted clients.
• Never leave a blind or partially sighted person standing in the middle of the surgery or consultation room, as it is easy to lose balance – ensure they are near a table top, wall or chair back, for example.
• Never assume somebody needs help – different people have different capabilities. Only 2 per cent of people registered blind in the UK have no sight at all.
• Some people will accept help graciously whether they need it or not, while others may refuse it as they are determined to be independent. Don’t let this put you off or hurt you.
• Explain what is going on in the room, for example if there is somebody else in the room so the person is not shocked when they hear a new voice. Lightly touch the person’s shoulder or arm and use their name so they know you’re speaking to them.
• Guide dogs are always on the person’s left, so when you ask if they would like to take you arm to guide them, always offer your left arm.
• When guiding someone to a chair, put their hand on the back of it to help them guide themselves into it.
Vets shocked to discover a tangle of items in cat’s stomach
Brighton vets got a shock when they performed exploratory surgery on a cat with a suspected tumour, only to find an assortment of shoelaces, hair bands and plastic in his stomach.
Curious cat Garry had been taken to PDSA’s pet hospital in Brighton for his annual boosters, when vets became concerned by a large mass in his stomach. Garry’s worried owner, was told to expect the worst, as a life-threatening tumour was suspected to be the cause.
During emergency surgery, however, PDSA vet Jess Maguire discovered a tangle of objects in Garry’s stomach. She commented: “We often see dogs who have eaten odd things, but it is quite unusual for a cat to eat so many different items.”
Garry’s owner said: “Garry is a very cheeky little chap who has always preferred playing with human things instead of cat toys. But we had no idea he was actually eating them.
“I’d washed some laces from my trainers, which went missing. I never for one moment thought that Garry was the reason why!
“When I first heard it may be a tumour, I was devastated. My two boys and I all adore him. So although I was absolutely shocked to find out what the mass was, we were relieved to hear the good news that it wasn’t a tumour.”
The items could have caused a fatal blockage if left undetected. Vets suspect they had been eaten over a period of time and said it’s surprising the cat had not suffered any symptoms.
Garry’s owner said the mischievous moggie will be under close scrutiny now to put a stop to his bizarre snacking.
One-in-four divorces involve a dispute over pets
Family law experts are advising couples to put together a plan in case the worst should happen.
Whether a cat, dog or a rabbit, couples preparing to get married or set up home together are being urged to draw up a pre-nup for their animals.
Whilst it may not be the most romantic of conversations, family law experts believe that having a ‘pet-nup’ for sharing ‘custody’ of the pet and other details, such as cost of veterinary treatment, will provide peace of mind for both partners.
“Solicitors are usually the first port of call for people who are divorcing so perhaps we are a little on the cynical side- but we see the problems caused when relationships break down – and it’s usually costly, stressful and emotionally draining for both parties.
Pets are part of the family so it makes sense to think about their welfare.
Many pets are taken to re-homing centres following a relationship breakdown. Cats and dogs are the most fought over pets, followed by rabbits, guinea pigs and horses.
Alyson Jones, re-homing development manager at Blue Cross, said: “At our re-homing centres we deal with some very upsetting situations when pets are brought to us following relationship splits. It really is devastating for everyone involved – including the pet. One partner will sometimes bring a pet to us for re-homing without the other’s knowledge.
“Our pets are not just material goods; they are often at the heart of our home lives, so it is a good idea to agree on your pet’s future in advance to make a difficult situation easier. It makes sense to agree up front who will keep your pet so that they don’t get dragged through the courts or end up in our re-homing centres.”