Earlier this month we had our annual inspection and meeting with the Office of Fair Trading in the UK.
This involves an inspection of our certificates and licenses and of the van. This year it also included the kennels that we have had built at our UK property. We also discuss the transport process that we use.
No issues with the inspection, and a good chat in general which highlighted a couple of points:
1. Our policy of not using bedding in the cages was confirmed as more hygienic than using beds that can’t be disinfected en route (we got a good source for the sterlising solution used by vets), and better for the animals as they are not left in soiled bedding.
2. The kennels were well received (the heating was on as we were kenneling some cats that evening) and we had the TRACES situation confirmed. For rescue animals that are stopping over for a few hours en route for food, rest etc then the TRACES document needs to have the destination address of the new owner. If we were to be kenneling the rescue animals for a longer period the TRACES form needs to have our address on the form and the animals remain with us for 48 hours. We will continue to inform the owners on an individual basis what is required for the TRACES document as we only know once the schedule has been confirmed.
3. There is a lot of focus on the illegal import of rescue animals under the Pets Scheme, and while there has been an increase in the use of TRACES, this is causing some issues as people are incorrectly filling in the documents: in particular the section that confirms the animal isn’t on the Pets Scheme, and the fact that many of the organisations completing the TRACES for aren’t in fact the owners of the animal. One area that highlights this is the number of abandoned (or lost) pets in the UK that have a Spanish microchip and can’t be traced. Basically this means that rescues (and transport companies) are importing cats and dogs illegally, and it seems without very good home checks. The use of TRACES reduces this problem as the TRACES documentation is online and recorded so the Spanish chip can be traced back to the original owner – or would do if TRACES was being used properly in Spain. One key aspect of TRACES is that in the event of a problem (lost, health etc) it allows the history of the animal to be traced, so how can an organisation that is facilitating TRACES actually know (and provide) the health history if required? If they are contacted by the UK authorities as the last registered owner on the TRACES documents but can’t provide details of the animals health history it is going to be a problem.
For the first time we were asked to keep an eye out for several things, which I wont divulge, but suffice to say it is a good idea to assume that the authorities are more than aware of the ways the systems are being abused and are taking more steps to address it.
Remember that you can see our 2015 pet and rescue animal transport schedule here.