In the light of a recent case of rabies in the Netherlands arising from dogs legally imported from Bulgaria, Veterinary Ireland is today calling for a re-examination of the regulations regarding movement of pets from other countries into Ireland.

Speaking to AgriLand, past president of Veterinary Ireland, Alan Rossiter, said the recent case “could have just as easily happened in Ireland” and urged the Minister for AgricultureSimon Coveney, to seek a review of the existing pet-movement regulations at an EU level.

The case in question was in the Netherlands where four-month-old puppies from the same litter were imported from Bulgaria on 5 October. The first clinical signs of rabies, involving fever and paralysis, were detected five days later.

“It could just have easily happened here in Ireland. Indeed I have seen pups imported from Bulgaria myself in my practice.” said Rossiter. “We have serious concerns. In the Netherlands case, all the checks were correct and all the criteria fulfilled for the movement of animals yet rabies was detected only after the animals moved to the Netherlands.”

In a motion tabled at its AGM conference this morning, Veterinary Ireland called on the Government to ensure there is full enforcement of the law regarding both commercial and non-commercial pet movements between Ireland and other EU states.

The aim is to ensure that both the welfare of the animals concerned and Ireland’s rabies-free status are best protected, and also to review the penalties imposed upon persons that have imported animals in breach of the regulations, it said.

Ireland has been considered rabies free and practises strict quarantine of imported animals. In Ireland there have been no indigenous rabies cases since 1903 and 1923 in Northern Ireland.

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