Animals: Imports

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 17th June 2022.

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Photo of Alexander Stafford Alexander Stafford Conservative, Rother Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will urgently review the temporary suspension of the commercial import of (a) rescue animals and (b) other dogs and cats, if they (i) have been dispatched from Belarus, Poland, Romania or Ukraine and (ii) can demonstrate that they will be fully vaccinated and blood tested by a registered charity.

Photo of Alexander Stafford Alexander Stafford Conservative, Rother Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of exempting certain organisations, subject to full compliance with vaccine and testing requirements, from the current temporary suspension of commercial imports of dogs and cats where they originate from or have been dispatched from Belarus, Poland, Romania or Ukraine.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments have temporarily suspended the commercial import of dogs, cats and ferrets into Great Britain if they originate from or have been dispatched from Belarus, Poland, Romania or Ukraine, until 9 July 2022.

We appreciate the impact that the temporary suspension will have on rescue organisations that operate in these countries. However, this measure is important to protect our biosecurity and the health of pets in this country.

This decision has been taken because of the serious health risk to humans and animals in Great Britain from commercial cats, dogs and ferrets from Belarus, Poland, Romania or Ukraine that do not comply with UK health and documentation requirements.

We understand the fluid situation at present due to the crisis and are aware that Romania, Belarus and Poland are currently experiencing high volumes of animal movements from Ukraine. Movements from these countries into Great Britain therefore present a higher risk at the current time due to the flow of animals from Ukraine.

In particular, there is evidence to suggest that commercial consignments of pet animals from Ukraine are being moved into Poland, Romania and Belarus, including strays, rescue and abandoned animals.

Unlike non-commercial pets accompanying Ukrainian refugees, these animals often have unknown history and disease status which increases the risk of disease spread.

Our standards of biosecurity are among the highest in the world. The Government takes the importation of pets seriously and is committed to preserving our high standards of biosecurity. The movement of commercial pets from Belarus, Poland, Romania and Ukraine represents a clear and serious enough biosecurity risk at the current time that we therefore consider the suspension of these movements necessary to protect the health of people and pets in Great Britain.

This risk has been exacerbated further by serious cases of non-compliance. There is a history of non-compliant movements of rescue animals into Great Britain from this region, which further increases the biosecurity risk.

The Government appreciates the work of genuine rescue and rehoming organisations who work to ensure that unwanted and abandoned animals are given the opportunity to find a forever home while importantly complying with our animal health and welfare legislation. It is important to note that this is a temporary measure which will be reviewed in due course. We would encourage organisations which are temporarily unable to import rescue dogs, cats, and ferrets into Great Britain to provide help and assistance to animals in situ.

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