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The UK maintains strict controls on the movement of dogs and cats into the UK. These controls require all dogs, including working dogs, entering the UK from certain countries to be placed in quarantine on their arrival. This is intended to protect us from the incursion of serious diseases like rabies.
However, we recognise the excellent work carried out by UK search and rescue dogs in response to international emergencies. We also appreciate that ongoing and regular training is critical for these dogs so that they can maintain their response capability, and the burden that quarantine places on these animals.
Each case would need to be considered on an individual basis, but we would be willing to work with the relevant organisations to explore potential options which prove an acceptable compromise between the needs of these dogs, and our disease control requirements.
For example, DEFRA worked closely with the Essex Fire Service in 2009 to develop a system which allowed a rescue dog returning from the earthquake in Indonesia to continue her training routine, while maintaining our strict controls protecting the public from the very serious disease of rabies. DEFRA is happy to continue working with search and rescue dog organisations to look at ways to maintain their dogs' readiness to respond to international situations in this manner.