Right of Reply: Lady Mary Fretwell

The Chairman of Passports for Pets replies to Suzanne Moore's article on their campaign
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The Independent Culture
OUR QUARANTINE laws are old fashioned and cause needless inconvenience for pets and owners alike. When he was Minister for Agriculture, Jack Cunningham recognised these concerns, and set about a reappraisal of quarantine laws, by asking Professor Ian Kennedy, of the University of London, to undertake a study.

The report of Professor Kennedy and his colleagues has given a powerful boost to the campaign to reform this outdated and primitive system. Their report knocks on the head the arguments which have been used for decades to perpetuate the idea that incarcerating cats and dogs in cages for six months is the only way to protect the realm. It confirms that vaccination is a safe and modern alternative.

I think that Suzanne Moore ("A few of my pet hates") accepted this in her tongue-in-cheek article, but I would like to take her up on one point. She wrote: "It seems logical that, as the threat of rabies diminishes, the quarantine laws should be relaxed. Yet the language that all this is discussed in is emotive. Pets go through the "ordeal" of quarantine, while their miserable owners have to endure separation. Our peculiar attitude to animals is once more on display."

But for pet owners facing the prospect of having their animals locked away, this is a very emotive issue indeed. We have thousands of members overseas who face the anguish of either putting down their pets, subjecting them to quarantine, or being unable to rejoin their families in the UK. As Suzanne Moore points out, press attention does indeed tend to be focused on the few well known personalities who have spoken on this question. But for every "superstar" there are a thousand ordinary mortals who want the right to travel with their pets.

Now that Professor Kennedy has told the Government that it can be done safely there will be a tide of pressure - and emotion - from those whose lives have been affected by the quarantine system. Could Suzanne Moore not spare a thought for their feelings on pets, even if they are different from her own?