To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the pet travel scheme, if he will (a) re-introduce (i) the rabies blood test with a wait period in line with the incubation of the disease and (ii) the requirement for dogs and cats to be treated against ticks prior to entry into the UK, (b) shorten the tapeworm treatment window, (c) reduce the number of dogs allowed into the UK at one time under non-commercial rules and (d) bring forward legislative proposals to ensure the welfare of dogs and cats during transport between mainland Europe and the UK.
Defra takes the issue of puppy smuggling and other illegal importation of pets seriously. It is an abhorrent trade which causes suffering to puppies and puts the health of pets and people in the UK at risk. We have legislation in place to ensure those guilty of offences are duly punished.
We are listening to the concerns of stakeholders around future requirements and the Government is developing a range of options to strengthen our efforts to tackle puppy smuggling, taking into consideration the recommendations of stakeholders such as Dogs Trust. The end of the Transition Period may open up new opportunities for managing our own pet travel arrangements. As part of our wider work in this area, we have conducted a renewed rabies risk assessment and have commissioned assessments to understand the risks posed by tapeworms, as well as ticks and tick-borne disease. The results of these will be used to inform our future policy options.
Regarding specific sentencing options, the end of the Transition Period will again present new opportunities. We want to ensure that there are robust controls on disease and animal welfare whilst allowing pet owners to continue to be able to travel to and from the EU with the minimum of disruption.