January 12, 2011

THE PET PASSPORT

Being able to take our dog Lulu with us to France has made our holidays there so much more enjoyable.

Lulu

For years we were put off taking a dog abroad because lots of people told us it was a huge palaver and very complicated.

Passport

Year after year we put our dog in boarding kennels for one or two weeks while we went on holiday. This was very expensive and always slightly worrying, wondering what condition he or she would be in when we collected them back again when we got home. It was also a lot of trouble because we had to make sure the dog had its annual inoculations to comply with the kennel’s requirements before they would accept the dog. And often, having to take and collect the dog during “office” hours meant they would be in the kennels for two nights more than the duration of our holiday and me having to rush round in my lunch hour or take time off work to do the running around.

Obviously, in the days when we travelled on holiday by motorcycle we had no choice – although we have frequently seen little dogs perched in baskets on the handlebars of a Harley-Davidson or in a pillion’s rucksack. Okay if the journey was only a few kilometres but not really a serious solution for a major tour of France !!

In 2007 we had were badly let down by our usual boarding kennels when we left our previous poodle, Dusty in their care. You can read more about that here. After that we decided to look into it properly and got Dusty her pet passport. We discovered that the whole process is not really a great deal of trouble at all.

Vet

The process is as follows.

The dog has to be microchipped. This is something many dog owners would choose to have done anyway as it makes the recovery of a lost or stolen dog more likely.

The dog is given a rabies vaccination and then a blood test exactly one month later to establish that the treatment has worked. If it’s positive, a passport is issued and the dog can make its first trip abroad six months after that. To be absolutely correct, the dog can travel out of the UK at any time but cannot make it's first re-entry into the UK until six months after the blood test has proved positive.

Getting into Europe is straightforward as there are no restrictions on taking a pet out of the UK, only on bringing them back in. No checks are made at the port on the way out. Usually you pay a small supplement for your ticket, presumably because of the cost of the administration and infrastructure required for the return journey. Curiously, the ticket allows for the transport of one dog, cat or ferret. I have yet to meet anyone who has taken their ferret to France !!

XMAS 2010 003

The only part of the process that requires a bit of organisation, is that between 24 and 48 hours before boarding the ferry or train back to the UK, the dog has to be seen by a vet in France who will administer an anti-tick treatment (usually Frontline) and a worm tablet, ascertain that the dog is fit to travel, then sign and date the passport. On arrival at Eurotunnel (we have never taken our dog on a ferry) there is a separate check-in station where the dog’s identity and the vet’s entries in the passport are checked. This takes all of five minutes then away you go, back to the normal check-in process to board the train.

Obviously there are times when things can go wrong, usually because travel plans change or the journey back to the port takes longer than planned, maybe because of a break-down, traffic jam or similar. Then you arrive at the port to find the time-slot for taking your pet back to the UK has expired and you have to delay your crossing by another day to see a vet at the port to comply with the regulations. But on the whole, it works perfectly for most people most of the time and it’s a great deal cheaper and less worrying than using boarding kennels at home.

Lulu 2

Plus the fact that we have Lulu with us to entertain us and keep us busy, which is a complete joy and absolutely priceless. The only trouble it takes is remembering to book a five-minute appointment with our vet in Preuilly-sur-Claise on the right day before we come home.

You can read the official version on the Government website here.

15 comments:

  1. It's interesting how they're so careful about dogs but will let any old human through...

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  2. Dog passports. That's pretty cool.

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  3. That looks so easy! Staff really likes the picture of Lulu by the florist shop.

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  4. It's so helpful to have someone whose actually done it go through it in this way, thanks! We've asked at the vet and read up about it but I was always too scared to think about taking Missy anywhere abroad. If we got it wrong and they kept her for 6 months, I think I would have to stay with her! With our previous dog, we boarded him 3 times for continental holidays, pet passports hadn't been invented back then.

    We haven't been abroad since we got Missy (she's 5) and she has always come on holidays in England with us but I occasionally think it would be nice to go to France again.

    So, Lulu was with you all the time when you were on the train, no separate cage or anything or awkward people complaining they're allergic to dogs ...?

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  5. I had the most amazing pet ferret in S.Africa, she was more like a dog in the way she acted. I have often thought maybe I should get another one. If I do I will let you know that I have a passport LOL. Diane

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  6. Walt - I know what you mean.

    Pepe - it's very cool. Incidentally my first standard poodle came with the name Pepe !!

    Martina - it's dead easy.

    Sue - I would highly recommend it and if you start now you could be taking Missy to France in August.
    The tunnel is great because you stay with the car which means you stay with your dog, no leaving them alone in the car on the car deck of the ferry. No special crates or special anything and it's only 35 minutes to get to the other side. Lulu finds it no problem at all and the people at the pet check-in always say hello to her when she stands on her back legs and puts her paws on the counter to peer over and see what they're doing !!

    Diane - I do know people who have ferrets but you would be the first I know of to take one abroad.

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  7. My niece frequently brings her dog over, and the only difficult bit is making sure you can get a vet appt just before you go back.
    I wonder why ferrets are welcomed...what about hamsters, guinea pigs etc!

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  8. Lulu's a study in elegance in
    that first photo, certainly
    deserving of her own passport.

    On the subject of beloved doggies,
    I thought your comment on "Wilf
    the PON Discovers France" put
    things in the proper perspective.
    As for your neighbors, I'm
    speechless.

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  9. I agree with wcs.
    On the subject of pet dogs...I stopped in wonder and gazed through the window of the latest shop to open in Newark. I was looking at a dog having a blow-dry. Then came the manicure.

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  10. Elizabeth - hamster passports - now there's an idea !!

    Sheila - Euthanasia is certainly kinder than chucking your sick dog out of the house to freeze to death.

    Ken - It might have been Lulu ! Although not in Newark of course. Her hairdressing bill is bigger than mine !!
    I remember once turning up to collect my first standard poodle, Rufus, from the grooming salon to find him having his bottom blow-dried. There was a look of absolute bliss on his face as if to say "go away mum, this bit is lovely" !!

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  11. I agree Jean, pet passports are the best thing since sliced bread. Our Boris has traveled back and forth many times.

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  12. Craig - welcome! It's so easy, isn't it? Just pack the car, remember to pack the dog and all the passports and off you go !!

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  13. Hi Jean

    We are thinking of taking our dogs with us to my parents holiday home in Petit Pressigny next year. I was googling vets when I came across your blog. So reassuring to hear from someone whose already done it. Would you be able to recommend a vets nearby where we can get the dogs' worming tablets etc before our return journey?

    Many Thanks

    Nicki

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  14. Nicki - normally we use the vet in Preuilly-sur-Claise who has been very helpful to us. Last week his practice was closed when we needed Lulu's passport stamping for our return so we used the vet near Intermarché in Descartes, which was fine, too.

    The rules have changed on Jan 1st this year and I will be writing about that soon.

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