Getting Your Pets Here

Our pets have always been a part of our family and I couldn’t imagine being without them.  So when we decided to move the first thing I needed to figure out was how to bring them with me.    

My boy Guinness

We brought our two dogs Guinness and Tessie along with our cat Annie.  I won’t lie it isn’t cheap but I couldn’t have moved here without them.  There are procedures in place that must be followed exactly or it could result in either your pet being refused entry or being stuck in quarantine.

What I worried about most is the quarantine period.  Fearing the importation of rabies and other animal diseases, Britain has some of the strictest quarantine regulations in the world. Virtually all mammals, apart from horses and farm livestock, are liable to be subjected to a 6-month quarantine period in an approved kennel, which can be expensive but more importantly really hard on your pet.

Thankfully though there is the Pet Travel Scheme that allows you to avoid quarantining when bringing your dog, cat, rabbit or “rodent” into the UK.  It’s an improvement on previous procedures but it’s not completely  hassle free for pet-owners.

Tessie our Retriever cross with her Irish housemate Duke.

The conditions of this scheme include having to surgically implant a microchip in your pet and getting a ‘pet passport’ (which details vaccinations and other necessary veterinary treatments). Microchips MUST meet International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards ISO 11784 and ISO 11785 or your pet could be refused entry.  You may have to bring your own microchip reader when you travel if your pet’s microchip doesn’t meet ISO standards. Our furbabies were all brought over around 6 months after we had arrived and I wasn’t there when they landed so I ensured my vet implanted the ISO certified microchip.

Your pet will need to be vaccinated against rabies before they can travel – this needs to be done the same time as the microchip. The vaccine must be an inactivated vaccine or recombinant vaccine that’s approved in the country of use.

You will also need to get your vet to treat your dog for tapeworm and record it in the pet passport. The treatment must have been given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you enter the UK. Your dog can be refused entry or put into quarantine if you don’t follow this rule.

The treatment must:

  • be approved for use in the country it’s being given in
  • contain praziquantel or an equivalent proven to be effective against the Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm
Our cat Annie.

In addition, pets travelling under this scheme may only do so using specified sea, air and rail routes. Ours had to go from Winnipeg to Toronto and then onto London Heathrow.  There will be guidelines as well on the size and type of kennel required but your chosen airline can give you the details of what you will need.

Since I didn’t have a vehicle I arranged for a Pet Transport company to collect them for me on my behalf.  The company we used was located at Heathrow and they picked them up as soon as they arrived.  They then brought them back to their kennel facilities;  walked the dogs and made sure they all had water and something to eat before loading them in a van and driving them to us in Devon.

I will never forgot the look on their faces when the van door opened and they saw us standing there, the look of relief on their sweet little faces was priceless – not to mention how relieved I was at finally having them back with me!

The whole process cost us about $4,000 plus the £400 to have them driven down to Devon.  I do realise it was expensive but I just couldn’t leave them behind.  They were all rescues and I made a promise to each of them that I would never leave them and that they would be with me for the rest of their lives.  I am so happy that I was able to keep that promise to each of them.  Unfortunately, they are all passed now; we lost Annie in 2012 at age 14; Guinness passed away in January 2015 followed by Tessie in April 2015 – they were both 16 years old when they passed away. They were worth every penny and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

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   “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
― Anatole France