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.
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
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
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