Identifting PETS Scheme Abuse

A number of rescue centres and transport companies continue to reject the need to use TRACES when transporting a re-homed cat or dog and continue to abuse the PETS Scheme.

Seems that the fact that it is easy enough to use the PETS Scheme to get animals into the UK is enough, and I regularly hear the comment that it is impossible for them to check whether the animal is registered to the owner in the UK or not so it will all be OK.

I wonder how many realise that the passport itself has a very very clear indication as to the ownership status of the animal, and I am not talking about the chip number, or owners details!

Take a look at the two passports below and see if you can tell the difference.

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This pet passport belongs to one of our pets who is registered to us here in Spain.

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This pet passport belongs to a rescue animal that was re-homed and transported to a new owner.

Take a look at the top photo, the one our our pet registered to us here in Spain. See the small sticker to the right of the vets stamp? Since 2010 vets in Spain are meant to add one of these stickers to the passport when they update the rabies database for pets registered to an owner in Spain.

Take a look at the bottom photograph, the one for a rescued animal that was chipped, vaccinated and then rehomed and transported under TRACES. Note the lack of the small sticker. This is because although the animal was chipped and vaccinated as it had no registered owner here in Spain the rabies database couldn’t be updated.

Now this being Spain, and vets, (the world over) not the best with their paperwork there is no guarantee that they will all add the sticker, and ironically if a rescue registers the animal in an indivduals name it will have one as well but you can see that there is actually a very simple way that the authorities can check if a animal is eligible for the PETS Scheme or TRACES.

As we say on the booking form, and the Pets Travel Scheme Page our policy is to believe the information that we are given when people book with us and want to use the PETS Scheme, but this is what we look for on the basis that the authorities can (and should) do the same:

1. The owner’s name on the paperwork regarding the registration of the animal.
2. The owner’s name in the passport. This is pretty meaningless as anybody can write anything but if the name is a rescue centre, or charity, or a different individual to the one on the booking form saying they are the owner it is pretty obvious.
3. The pet passport: does it have the sticker to show that the animal is registered to an individual here in Spain.

To be honest if other transports and rescues want to carry on using the PETS Scheme for re-homed animals it really is up to them. A number say that DEFRA have told them that it isn’t required, but I suspect that DEFRA are responding to the way the questions are phrased by people that really want them to say the PETS Scheme is enough. The fact is that it isn’t and DEFRA are very clear about this on their web site (as you can see from the links above).

With TRACES the new owner has to notify the authorities in the UK that they are receiving the animal, and the authorities should already know, as that is one of the main points of using TRACES. We have seen a significant increase in inspections over the last couple of months.

We have also seen a number of inspections for animals transported under the PETS Scheme. Not sure how the authorities are getting to know about these. Pet Passport Control doesn’t check the address, nor do Border Control, so that pretty much only leaves the vets in Spain, or the UK authorities have access to the databases here in Spain.

We have also started to see UK vets follow the lead of German vets and ask for evidence of TRACES documents when asked to register a Spanish animal onto the UK microchip database, which is something everyone needs to do whether the animal is a pet or a rescue animal.

So although it remains easy to transport a rehomed animal into the UK under the PETS Scheme the reality is that there is an increasingly high chance that the authorities will eventually track it down and what happens then isn’t going to be good for the animal, the owner, the rescue organisation or the transport company i.e. not good for anybody involved and will just make it even harder for those that are doing it the correct way already.

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