Did you know it is illegal to bring a pet (dog) back into the UK on a private boat even if it has a pet passport? It is.
The way we have brought our pet dog back on many occasions is for me to single hand the boat whilst my wife and dog travelled as foot passengers on P&O from Calais to Dover. This is the route we have used several times to legally bring our dog back into the UK. It worked well and P&O provided a good service. Whilst crossing from Calais to Dover single handed is not ideal, with careful planning, and fair weather, it is not unreasonable.
P&O have just announced that they will no longer accept reservations for foot passengers with pets on their Calais Dover service. This means there is no reasonably way sailors can legally return to the UK with a pet.
With ferry companies not willing to convey pets unless they are in cars it does seem that the options open to sailors with pets are totally unworkable and consequently there are no options. Unless DEFRA change the rules I really believe many more crews will just sail home with their pet. It's not legal and your pet could be placed in quarantine and you may be fined.
This September we sailed home from the Olympics, London to Brixham stopping off at many of the south coast marinas. When asked, most dock masters did not know the rules but legally they must report the landing to DEFRA. However all marinas had notices reminding everyone that the landing of animals is not legal.
Please support my suggestion for a Way Forward
My suggestion then:-
1. All pets sailing across the Channel to be required to have a pet passport, no change.
2. All pets to be treated and checked by a vet in France prior to travel to the UK, no change.
3. All owners to be required to E:Mail DEFRA with their intended crossing date, their boat and pet details and their ETA into the UK and their port of entry. This information to be passed to the port of entry, new.
4. When all of the above has been completed pets should be allowed to travel on private boats, new.
5. On arrival in the UK all pets should remain securely on board in their port of entry until their pet passport has been checked. No change. Checking to be done by a body other than the ferry company.
This would require DEFRA to authorise other bodies to check pet passports in addition to the ferry companies.
I have asked a number of managers of south coast marinas if they would perform the check. Their answer, in principle, yes, but we would need to be authorised by DEFRA. I specifically talked to the Marina Manager in Dover who again said, in principle, yes. He told me that Dutch boats do arrive in Dover with dogs on board. The Dutch generally understand that the pet passport is sufficient as it is throughout Europe. The marina does contact DEFRA who generally arrive at the marina within minutes. DEFRA check the paperwork and declare it all to be 'in order', but they warn the crew that if they allow the dog onto the pontoon it will be placed in quarantine and they will be fined.
Marinas will come on board, will DEFRA? I doubt it, DEFRA do not appear to listen and they certainly do not communicate, come on DEFRA prove me wrong.
If you are a sailor with a sailing pet or
a sailing vet or
a sailor who is willing to support the petition,
please help by petitioning DEFRA.