Two obvious things to say about Brexit and the future of the UK ‘outside’ of the EU. 1) at this stage nobody knows anything at all about what the ongoing negotiations will result in, and 2) nobody knows how long the agreement will take to implement in two years time.
The sensible thing therefore is to carry on as normal, keep monitoring the official updates as and when they start to emerge, and as far as pet and rescue animal transport into and out of the UK is concerned be prepared to adapt as necessary.
Of course human nature being what it is that is not happening and people are already speculating and making statements as to what will (and wont) happen post Brexit. The world of pet transport is no different so there is already much speculation as to the nature of the TRACES Scheme and the PETS Scheme.
With regards to TRACES I have been told of a Spanish Government Vet who said that post Brexit he (the Spanish Government Vet) wouldn’t be able to issue TRACES Certificates into the UK and transporters would need to stop in Calais and have the animals TRACES done.
This was basically repeated by a person in DEFRA who claimed that post a ‘hard’ Brexit they would not have access to TRACES.
Effectively the same message, but let’s not forget: nobody has made any announcements or decisions yet!
Personally I have the view that very little will change post Brexit, in most areas! Consider how many things need unraveling post Brexit, with inevitable cost and confusion for both ‘sides’: governments and their citizens.
My guess is that they will leave as much as possible in place “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it’ and concentrate on the big ticket items: immigration, border controls etc.
I think it is also worth recapping what TRACES is about. It was NOT created for the movement of re-homed cats and dogs! It was put in place to protect the integrity of the food chain in relation to the movement of livestock, and protect the health of said food chains consumers. Think Mad Cow, Foot & Mouth, High Levels of residual pesticides etc.
In it’s simplest form when a animal is transported from Owner A to Owner B TRACES records the transfer of Ownership, and ensures that the ‘life history’ of the animal can be tracked down and monitored at each point of ownership. So Owner A holds all the records relating to the treatment of their animal while under their ownership, TRACES records the movement of the animal to Owner B via an approved and registered transporter, and Owner B holds all the future records of treatments relating to the animal while in their ownership. The more complex the Ownership history in the food chain the more relevant this becomes.
A little OTT for cats and dogs? Possibly, but it’s aim is to protect against Rabies, and the illegal transport of young puppies etc. So you see it is about transparency, integrity and welfare of the animal: the core values of TRACES.
TRACES is a EU wide scheme, so it is tempting to say that post BREXIT the UK wont have access to the system, BUT let’s take a moment to look at Bosnia. They are not in the EU but if you want to legally transport a rescue (re-homed) cat or dog from Bosnia to a EU country a system exists. In Bosnia they complete a Health Certificate which is pretty much exactly the same as the TRACES Certificate in all but name. It looks the same. It requires exactly the same information. As you leave Bosnia and you enter the EU you have to enter via a BIP (Border Inspection Point) where they transfer the Health Certificate details onto the TRACES system. As the information is exactly the same on both forms, and in the same format, and both held electronically this is little more than linking the Health Certificate number to the TRACES Certificate number. At which point the animals are on the TRACES System, so when the transporter arrives at Pet Passport Control at Calais they can just check the Certificate number as they usually do.
My point? That there already exists a process for a non EU country to transport an animal under TRACES into the EU.
My point? TRACES was not devised for the transport of cats and dogs, so post Brexit do you really think that the whole of the EU will want to stop a) selling livestock related produce to the UK or b) stop buying UK livestock related produce?
If it isn’t broken …… who actually benefits from the UK not having access to TRACES post Brexit? Nobody! Do the citizens of the UK and EU benefit from removing TRACES? No. Does it cost anything to leave TRACES in place post Brexit? No.
Remember TRACES provides integrity, welfare and accountability of livestock and those that consume it. Would the UK or EU want to reduce this? Could they replace it with a ‘better’ system? MY guess is that those that have complained that TRACES is ‘overkill’ for cats and dogs being re-homed into the UK may live to regret that and be thankful instead that TRACES exists for livestock and the re-homing of cats and dogs is just a small element of what it is used for.
What about the PETS Scheme then?
The prime objective of the PETS Scheme as far as the UK is concerned is that it protects the UK from Rabies, and in the case of dogs Tapeworm. When the quarantine rule was replaced with the PETS Scheme the UK was instrumental in the negotiations (they wanted the 1-5 days Worming requirement) so again: since the introduction of the PETS Scheme has rabies returned to the UK? No. Has Tapeworm become an issue in dogs in the UK? No.
I could (and will) argue that the PETS Scheme isn’t really an EU wide scheme anyway. It is a good example of how two parties different requirements can be accommodated.
A pet cat or dog entering the UK will be checked: it’s microchip will be read and pet passport checked for correct microchip date, correct rabies and worming dates, that the owners details and signature are the same in the passport as on the microchip registration form, and that the vet who administered the rabies has their phone number in the pet passport.
A pet cat or dog entering the EU from the UK isn’t checked at all, nor is it checked when crossing a EU border (the sheer land mass of the EU means stoping an animal roaming is impossible).
So again, why fix something that isn’t broken? In fact, thinking about it, maybe the pet passport approach is a good blue print for a number of the other border related issues that will need resolving post Brexit?
Anyway, as I said nobody knows anything yet, nor will we for a while but the above is my two pennies worth, and for now we will continue as ever and if we need to adjust in the future we will.
It is after all, just about the animals!!!!