British Veterinarian Association’s focus on Pet Travel!

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) held a conference to discuss various options with regards to Animal Welfare, Veterinary Health & Research & Pet Travel! It is great for us, in the Pet Travel market, to see such issues as pet travel being lumped into the agenda's of such conferences! It is a great sign for all of us who work with moving pets or for those of you traveling with pets, that the confusion and unorganized rules that many countries have will hopefully soon become standard practice and will shed some light on the industry of pet travel and just how important it is to the safety of countries and the pets that travel to and from.

We have pasted the article below and the original can be found here.

The agenda for the BVA's July Council meeting covered a range of matters of interest, not only to BVA members but to the profession as a whole, not least the presentations by BSAVA President Professor Ed Hall on a number of key companion animal issues and that by the new Defra Chief Veterinary Officer, Mr Nigel Gibbens.

Professor Hall's presentation was divided into four categories - animal welfare, veterinary public health, research and pet travel. Under animal welfare, Council heard about suggestions for making legislation relating to dangerous dogs more effective, not least the concept of 'deed not breed' and the opening of the existing exemption list, as well as the lack of progress on both secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act and the publication of the Dog and Cat Codes. Insofar as the Act itself was concerned there were still problems vis a vis tail-docking, not least due to differing legislation within the devolved regions.

Other issues highlighted under the animal welfare category included owner expectations of veterinary services to match human health care, obesity, use of pets as commodities e.g. 'rent-a-dog', handbag dogs and 'legal weapons' and puppy farming not only in the UK and Ireland but also in the EU Accession states. On the veterinary public health side Professor Hall highlighted the problems of both dog bites and zoonotic diseases, both endemic and imported. The part of the presentation relating to research was, tellingly, the shortest section given how limited funding sources are for companion animal work but highlighted the need for research into epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment of zoonotic and imported diseases.

The section of Professor Hall's presentation on pet travel was intentionally the longest and probably the most thought-provoking, and he thanked his colleague, Susan Shaw, for providing much of the information. Following an outline of the current state of play with the non-commercial movement of pet animals under the UK Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), the existing derogation for the five rabies-free states (UK, Irish Republic, Sweden, Finland and Malta), recently extended to 1 July 2010 and the challenges faced by these five states in maintaining the existing transitional arrangements Professor Hall proceeded to outline the emergence of companion animal disease in new geographical areas and the risk of these becoming endemic whether by global warming and movement of vectors, e.g. sandflies, the carriers of Leishmania, have been found in the Channel Islands, by the appearance of novel vectors, or by direct host-host transmission through bites.

Monocytic Ehrlichiosis was brought into the USA by service dogs returning from Vietnam, but is now endemic and infecting pets and humans. The UK's Dog and Cat Travel and Risk Information (DACTARI) scheme has identified some cases of Leishmaniasis, Babesiosis (even in dogs that have never left the UK), Ehrlichiosis and Dirofilariasis, but there appears to be significant under-reporting when comparing DACTARI returns with cases identified by commercial laboratories.

More is likely to be heard on most if not all of the subjects covered in Professor Hall's presentation, not least the need for a publicity offensive to counter the seeming lack of awareness of the importance of the DACTARI scheme amongst the profession. The BVA's Companion Animal Group has been charged by Council with progressing the issues raised.

Following discussion on the use of electronic training devices at the recent BVA Animal Welfare Foundation Discussion Forum, BVA Council also considered the existing BSAVA/BVA policy, which is to be reviewed by the Ethics and Welfare Group in order to underline the difference between devices used for training and those used, for instance with farm animals, for containment.

Council also received updates on activities to date concerning the Veterinary Surgeons Act, including the results of the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee's (EFRACom) inquiry into whether the Act should be replaced and agreed on the key four aspects of a new Act that BVA should concentrate on, namely a new Council structure, a statutory framework for the veterinary nursing profession, the regulation of paraprofessionals and CPD; and on the work of Defra's Vets and Veterinary Services working group and the input provided to it by the BVA including a paper on 'Strengths and Weaknesses of Evolving vs Traditional Rural Veterinary Businesses'.

Professor Philip Lowe, the chair of VVSWG has now asked for further information from BVA about the role of practicing vets in providing surveillance information about disease and Council's advice and input was sought by the Production Animal Group which is co-ordinating a BVA response.

BVA Council also provided an opportunity for Defra's new Chief Veterinary Officer, Mr Nigel Gibbens, to outline his key issues including new and emerging diseases, animal welfare, responsibility and cost sharing, risk assessments and management, BSE controls, the EU health strategy, border controls, science and research, endemic disease, climate change and food security. In explaining that he was not a Director General, Mr Gibbens advised that this released him from that role's administrative burden but that he remained as the spokesman both for the UK and in the EU on emergency disease response.

The CVO outlined areas where he hoped that BVA and Defra could work together, including the forthcoming European Veterinary Week and the EU action plan for the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy as well as the Veterinary Surgeons Act on which he was confident that a bid for parliamentary time would be made in 2011. In the more immediate future, he looked forward to the publication of Professor Lowe's Vets and Veterinary Services Report in the autumn but warned that pressure on budgets was such that only core responsibilities would be upheld. Research would be funded only if it was for the public good.

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