Joan McAlpine MSP has spoken out in parliament for pet owners faced with separation from their beloved dog or cat because of Brexit.
The SNP MSP was reacting to an admission from the UK government that a hard Brexit would end the EU Pet Travel Scheme, which allows owners to travel easily with their pets across Europe.
Ms. McAlpine told the Scottish Parliament that a no deal Brexit could mean pet owners had to see a vet by this November for travel in Europe after next March.
She described the move as “callous and disruptive” and said it ought to have been avoided.
Under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, now under threat from Brexit, owners of dogs, cats and ferrets can travel with their animals to and from EU countries - provided they hold a valid EU pet passport.
Ms McAlpine said; “The uncertainty created by the UK Government’s irresponsible approach to negotiations thus far has allowed matters like this to fall by the wayside. Now, people will be made to pay simply for owning pets. That cannot stand.”
Ms. McAlpine raised her concerns in a question session with Mike Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Government, Business and Constitutional Relations in the Scottish Government.
Ms McAlpine, in her questioning, said:
“Pet owners who wish to take their animals to Europe will face barriers in acquiring a pet passport post Brexit. In the event of a no deal they need to have met with a vet by November this year to guarantee travel after March 2019. Does the minister agree with me that this is callous, disruptive and should have been avoided?"
The Cabinet Secretary responded:
“Yes, I do. The UK Government’s technical notices do expose, more starkly than anything else we have seen, how disastrous and ridiculous a no deal Brexit could be.
“The UK Government’s own guidance couldn’t be clearer about the chaos and disruption that will ensue. It can be and it could be avoided. The Prime Minister should put an end to her brinkmanship and commit to the only feasible option – short of continued EU Membership – to stay in the single market.”
Before a pet can travel from the UK to another EU country for the first time, it must be taken to an Official Veterinarian (OV) at least 21 days before travel. The OV will ensure the animal has a microchip and rabies vaccination, before issuing an EU pet passport, which remains valid for travel for the pet’s lifetime.
On return to the UK, the pet has its microchip scanned to confirm its identity and its passport checked to ensure it corresponds with the microchip.
According to the UK Government, If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no deal, it would become a ‘third country’ for the purposes of the EU Pet Travel Scheme.
Pets would continue to be able to travel from the UK to the EU, but the requirements for documents and health checks would differ depending on what category of third country the UK becomes on the day we leave the EU.
If you live in an unlisted third country, which the UK would become in the event of a “no deal” crash out from the EU, you must take you pet to the vet for checks four months before you intend to travel.