Being able to take our dog Lulu with us to France has made our holidays there so much more enjoyable.
For years we were put off taking a dog abroad because lots of people told us it was a huge palaver and very complicated.
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.
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 !!
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.
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.