A couple of months ago Sands arrived back at our UK home to find a note had been left by the local Office of Fair Trading officer saying they had called round and could we give them a call to arrange a meeting. I must confess it seemed a little strange, but a phone call quickly informed us that the reason for the meeting was that DEFRA had recently informed them that we were running a pet transport business from our UK address. Slightly strange in that we have been doing this for the best part of two years, and running our consultancy business from the address for over 10 years.
It did coincide with a couple of transports where we had been questioned in more depth than usual at passport control, as I mentioned before. This wasn’t at pet passport but at the border control at the Shuttle Terminal in Calais, and was nothing more than a routine question and answer when we showed our passports. It was more evidence however that the authorities are showing more interest in the transportation of pets to the UK, with the focus being on how we could afford such a good van, how long we had been doing it, where did we ‘get’ the pets from, and where we were ‘selling’ the pets in the UK etc.
Anyway back to the OFT meeting …..
On my last transport of pets to the UK I finally managed to meet up with them. They came to the house as they wanted to see the van. I say they, because the lady responsible for animal welfare came along as well. It seems that we are the only people providing a pet transport service in the area so when DEFRA passed on our details they thought they would come along and see us as they had no idea about what we did, how it was done etc.
I talked them through the process (they had already seen the web site and commented that it was fine from their commercial perspective), and showed them round the van. After a bunch of general questions they were more than happy with the way we operated, to the extent that the lady responsible for animal welfare is interested in us doing some transport for them in the UK.
So no drama, no problem, but more evidence in my view that (quite rightly) the authorities are showing more interest in the whole area of pet transport to the UK. I think we will see a more rigorous adherence to the current rules over the next couple of months, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they look to fine tune the PETS and TRACES schemes to put even more controls in place later in the year.