Pet owners moving animals from GB face ‘onerous’ checks, says Poots

Some Northern Ireland pet owners face onerous documentary checks and unjustified vet treatments following Brexit, Stormont’s agriculture minister said.

Edwin Poots has written to Defra Secretary George Eustice and the European Commission about “unnecessary” regulations placed on domestic animal travel following the UK’s exit from the EU.

Those moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are required to meet new rules as part of the protocol aligning the country with the bloc’s rules.

Animals must get tapeworm treatment and a rabies vaccination, previously unnecessary given the disease-free status of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Ulster powersharing
Ulster powersharing

Mr Poots said: “As a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol, Northern Ireland’s pet owners are now facing onerous and unnecessary documentary checks as well as unjustified veterinary treatments for diseases that we do not have.”

He called for a Common Travel Area for pets.

“A worrying outworking of these new requirements is that no thought has been given to the difficulties caused for assistance dog users and assistance training puppies.

“This means that some of the most vulnerable in our society are being directly affected – this cannot and must not be the case.

“I trust that the Defra Secretary of State and the European Commission will consider and recognise the impact of the concerns I have raised and will work with me to find a pragmatic and sensible solution to these issues.”

Chief veterinary officer Robert Huey said the lack of rabies on the islands should make a solution possible but it would not be an easy task.

He said a way forward would have to be found by politicians, adding: “I am hopeful that will happen but it is not going to happen soon.”

Enforcement is due to begin from February 1.

Dr Huey added: “We have been talking to the interested groups for some time trying to find a way through this.

“The legislation is written in a very black and white way. I can find no wriggle to it at all.

“I have no alternative but to enforce this legislation but we will be doing it sensitively and pragmatically.”