Rabies shots may replace quarantine

Click to follow
The Independent Online
The end of tough quarantine laws came a step closer yesterday as the Government said it would consider substituting the six-month waiting period with rabies inoculations for animals entering Britain.

A statement from Jeff Rooker, the Agriculture minister, followed an announcement last month that ministers would review the quarantine system as it affected domestic pets. However, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries said details of the review had yet to be finalised.

"You have to make sure that any substitute is as effective as quarantine in keeping Britain rabies-free," she said.

Mr Rooker's statement will give hope to the myriad of high-profile, animal- loving jet-setters, including David Hockney, Elizabeth Hurley and Chris Patten, the Governor of Hong Kong, who will have to be parted from his beloved Norfolk terriers, Whisky and Soda, when he returns to Britain next month.

The announcement was seen as a "step in the right direction" by Lady Mary Fretwell, the chairwoman of the lobby group, Passports for Pets.

But Lady Fretwell, who put three of her own dogs through quarantine on returning to Britain with her husband from diplomatic duties, said the group would be pushing for a "clear policy statement" from the Government and a Green Paper.

There was no need for animals that had been vaccinated against rabies to be placed in quarantine, she said, adding: "We have been working to change the law for two-and-a-half years because the system is outdated and wrong.

"The UK is one of the few countries which has kept the law, becoming increasingly isolated from the rest of the world."