For a variety of reasons I had the opportunity to talk to the DEFRA Enforcement Officer in some detail, much of which I think should be of interests to Rescue and Pet Transporters.
It was pretty good timing with respect to a post I made in April 2017 which recently received a comment:
A friend can take the animal to the UK no trouble with just the Owner not travelling with their pet form signed by by the owner or responsible person authorized by the owner. No DEFRA certification is required. As a matter of fact, up to 5 animals can be transported by a friend using the same form.Comment from John
Unfortunately you are not correct. If you are not transporting your own pet, any third party you used must have a DEFRA certificate for their vehicle, and A Type 2 License. This has always been the case, and whilst you are unlikely to be checked, it is in fact an illegal transportMy response.
The DEFRA Enforcement Officer not only confirmed this, but went on to say that only that morning they had already refused travel for 7 dogs and 1 cat under the Pets Scheme because they were not traveling with their owners, and the people transporting them were not authorised transporters. In each case the owners had been told to come to Calais to collect their pets!
Without giving away names or specific details this is a summary of what else we discussed:
- DEFRA are more than aware that the ‘majority’ of TRACES certificates are not completed according to the rules i.e. they are done on behalf of the owner by a third party. Currently this is not a priority for them, and they are not sure how to stop it, BUT they do not intend for it to continue for much longer.
- They are fully supportive of making it that all imported cats and dogs on the TRACES scheme go to one approved location and remain there for 48 hours to allow inspection. The comment was very much along the lines of “that is how TRACES is meant to be done!”
- They are currently very focussed on what they call Status Dogs e.g. a Rottweiler with docked ears and tail which can sell in the UK for £2,500. During my time talking to the officer he refused entry for 7 such animals. All had the same birthday in their passports, all had docked ears and tails, all were puppies and none of the addresses on the TRACES form had a contact number so he couldn’t do a random check of the owners. He also commented that the EU Vet that completed the TRACES form was know to them as someone that didn’t even inspect the animals. In this case the transporter was made to take the animals to a kennel in Dover, and the new owners were going to be instructed to pick them up.
The Officer is spending time at all the ports educating and training pet control staff so that they also become more vigilant and stringent in the application of the rules.
The above points, are just examples. The message is very clear: ‘they’ are more than aware of the ongoing abuse regards the import and transport of pets, and they are slowly working their way through their priorities. They have banned a number of transporters recently, have increased the number of home visits, and have a number of rescues and individuals on their radar.
Absolutely no complaints from me on this, and while it may well inconvenience a few people, stopping the abuse must be the priority if for no other reason than …………… he believes that Eurotunnel are on the brink on stopping the transport of cats and dogs under TRACES.
They seem to be getting increasingly fed up with the disruption it is causing their core customers and having sat there and over a period of 3 hours watched how many transporters used the car park to clean the vans, cages and animals you can see their point. The bins fill up, the tarmac gets covered in water, pee and poo, and the pet exercise area gets monopolised.
To be clear: he has no inside track on this, and it is not a DEFRA position or decision, just his personal opinion.
It was also his opinion that while in the event of a No Deal Brexit DEFRA will recognise EU licenses and certificates, it is unlikely that the EU will reciprocate in which case the UK would be highly likely to reverse their decision.
Food for thought, and hopefully action! For pet transport under TRACES to continue it is in everyones interests to only do it the way it is meant to be done.