Checking animals into Pet Passport Control at the Shuttle, Calais yesterday I noticed a man moving around behind the check in staff as they processed the pets.
The staff were referring to him and a lot, and there seemed to be a lot more issues with people’s paperwork.
Having sorted my paperwork and with time to spare I asked him who he was.
He was the DEFRA Enforcer from the Dover office, and he is currently spending the weekends over at the Pet Passport Control Office as the transport of pets, in his words, is the most unregulated and abused scheme has has to deal with.
He told me that recently he had banned two pet transporters from ever using the Shuttle or Ferries again, effectively closing them down, and we spent twenty minutes or so discussing the nature (and issues) of the pet transport business.
He was certainly sympathetic to the fate of the animals, and gave the impression that he very much wanted to ensure the right people continued to help the animals, and while I have to say he never verbally communicated the following his expression demonstrated he at least had sympathy with my view that TRACES was a sledge hammer to crack a nut in terms of pet transport control as a) it was never designed for multiple animals from and to multiple locations and b) a joined up pet microchip database between countries would suffice, but as we both agreed, TRACES is the system we have to use, and so it needs to be used correctly.
Talking of which a number of issues that I noticed yesterday are worth passing on:
- With the twenty (20) pet limit on the Shuttle that means they will only accept a TRACES certificate with a maximum of twenty animals on it. It may seem obvious, but with many EU Vets issuing TRACES certificates for transports NOT into the UK they can of course add more animals on these transports. This will effect transporters that are planning on bringing more than twenty animals into the UK via a third party transporters such as ourselves, so suggest you make sure that you have any animals being transferred to another pet transporter listed on a separate certificate.
- Linked to the above, it is important that the third party pet transporters details are on the TRACES certificate. Possible because of the presence of the DEFRA enforcer’s presence but they were checking this information religiously yesterday, whereas in the past it has been a bit hit and miss.
- If you think that the staff are only going to check the TRACES certificate number on the database then thunk again. Yesterday one transporter was on the brink of having eight (8) animals refused transport because all the dogs birthday dates were the same. Being from Eastern Europe I think the language barrier was causing some issues, but I was able to determine that all the dogs had been rescued from a breeder, so in fact in made sense they were all born at the same time, so once explained there were no issues, BUT the point is, the paperwork is being checked far more thoroughly.
The conclusion? Don’t take short cuts with the paperwork to safe time or money, or to try and find a way around the system!
For those involved long enough in rescue and pet transport you will recall that the systematic abuse of the Pets Scheme resulted in the introduction of TRACES, and the ongoing abuse of this system is resulting in increased enforcement, and if that doesn’t work it is not a huge leap to see them trying to ban the movement of re-homed pets, or at the very least make it even more rigorous, think of the ongoing rumblings that they are going to enforce the process that animals can only be picked up from one location and delivered to one location, where they have to stay for 48 hours.