2014 Reflections




How quickly do the years pass these days? As we head towards the end of 2014 our 2015 Schedule is already filling up with pets being transported between Spain and the UK, and re-homed rescue cats and dogs heading to their new homes in Germany, Holland, Belgium and the UK.

But before we publish the 23rd January Transport Page it is a good time to look back (quickly) at 2014: a year which saw ALStrays Transport 267 cats and 326 dogs, under both the PETS Scheme and the TRACES Scheme.

TRACES was the most dominant feature of 2014, both in terms of the encouraging number of rescues that have registered and started using it, and the not so encouraging ongoing abuse and even avoidance of it by many.

The rule is very simple: if the reason for the transport is because of, or will result in, a transfer of ownership legally you must use TRACES. Just because you have registered the chip in the new owners name it doesn’t mean the PETS Scheme can be used, as the registering of the chip is a transfer of ownership and it is that transfer of ownership which necessitates the transport.

Of increasing concern, as highlighted during our recent Office of Fair Trading review, is the ongoing abuse of the system with one TRACES registered association processing animals on behalf of other associations and individuals. Tempting (and understandable) as this is the issue it raises is the lack of traceability (the very essence of TRACES) in many cases. In the event that an animal was found to be ill in the UK the authorities would contact the last known owner in Spain (the sender on the TRACES form) who would be required to provide the relevant health information relating to the animal. Where there is no real relationship between the organisation preparing the TRACES and the real owner of the animal, this information would not be easily available, and the important traceability is lost.

In many ways this is nothing to do with us as a Transporter, especially as we have no involvement in sorting out the TRACES for the rescue animals we transport for, but on the other hand we are responsible for the safe transport of the animals and with more and more vigilance been shown by the authorities (and some requests to provide information of known offenders) it surely is in the interests of the Transporter to ensure that nothing risks the other animals on board?

My first wish for 2015 is that with the authorities relaxing the Zoological requirement to register for TRACES, there is now no reason for any animal association not to register for TRACES, and as registering as an association is straightforward, there is no reason why any rescue isn’t official and able to do their own TRACES. This is a great opportunity for everyone to now become completely legal and also to stop the need for some of high payments being made to organisations that have been unfairly profiting from their TRACES registration, leaving smaller rescues with more money to spend caring for and preparing their animals for re-homing. TRACES inspections and the preparation of the paperwork is a FREE service provided by the government vets.

My second wish would have to be that people took more time to read important information! It may be hard to believe but the easiest part of the transport is the actual driving! The key ingredient to a successful transport is the planning, and you would not believe the repeat issues we encounter simply because people wont read:

  1. Rabies Vaccination termination date not completed in Pets Passport (you can see how it should be done here)
  2. Worming Time not completed in pet passport
  3. People not tracking the updates on the Transport Page and delaying the transport for everyone else.
  4. People not ensuring they know where the locations are and phoning for directions when we are en route.

If I am allowed a third wish it would have to be that once and for all the ‘rescue world’ grew up and stopped bickering, and specifically stopped bickering in public. We don’t all have to like each other. We don’t all have to do it the same way (but we do all have to do it legally), but if we mean it when we say that the animals come first then in 2015 let’s all try and prove those words with our actions!

We are very happy with the way we do things, and we are very happy to let others do things their way. 2014 has been a tough year for everyone involved in animal rescue: more animals, too few foster homes, adoptants harder to find, more stringent regulations. 2015 is going to be tougher, so we don’t need to make it any harder.

Looking at 2015 it is very much ‘more of the same’ for ALStrays Transport. We are going to stick with the monthly Scheduled Transport to Germany, Holland, Belgium and the UK using the same pick up and drop off locations as we have always used. I don’t think we will be doing any Charters this year from Bosnia as they continue to be unable to sort out the proper TRACES documentation. This has been a real shame during 2014 that we were unable to continue but a lack of TRACES and the ongoing bickering and internal fighting amongst the Bosnia rescues made it nonviable.

80% of our transport spaces are filled by our preferred partners or repeat pet owners which is something that we are keen to continue. We will continue to run the rescue animal transports on a non profitable basis, subsidised by the pet transports, which is reflected once again in our 2015 Prices.

Sands will continue working with the same rescues and charities with her cat re-homing activities, and while she would like to work with other charities that are re-homing she can’t get involved with any more rescues here in Spain.

Our other main focus for 2015 will be setting up our Charity in the UK. This is very much preparation for the future: our return to live in the UK, the termination of our transports, scaling back on the cat re-homing as it will be the means by which we continue to help and support the abandoned and abused animals that we can help.

Apart from that our plan is to be healthy and spend as much time as possible with our own pets.

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