Fears over pet travel and medicines in no-deal

Animal organisations have told Connexion of their concerns over complications that a no-deal Brexit would bring.

4 October 2019
By Oliver Rowland

Additional paperwork and longer preparation will be needed for those travelling with pets (immediately in the case of no-deal or after a transition period if there is a deal) as the pet passports people use now are an EU document.

There are also worries over effects on supplies of pet medicines.

Pet rescue and rehoming charity French Riviera Animals Association said Brexit is “creating a lot of uncertainty” for animal lovers in the south-east.

Its president, Tana Deen, said: “A titration test [a blood test to check that the pet’s rabies vaccine is working properly] will probably be mandatory and people travelling form the UK to the EU will likely have to visit a vet for the test three months in advance of travel – it will be a costly exercise.”

She said another worry is whether some pets may be abandoned by Britons who move back to the UK due to Brexit, perhaps due to complications in obtaining a carte de séjour [editor’s note: Connexion considers that the vast majority of British residents would qualify for a carte under the French no-deal rules].

“I expect to see an increase in abandoned animals here which is already a big problem at the best of times,” Ms Deen said.

She added that a wider concern is the fact that many animal refuges in eastern Europe have agreements to send dogs to shelters in the UK where they may have a better chance of adoption, and they may be able to do so less easily if there are additional costs and formalities.

British anti-Brexit activist Peter Cook, author of Let’s Talk About BREX… it (which lays out arguments for remaining in the EU) and creator of Facebook group Cats against Brexit Mayhem, said in a no-deal Brexit people are expected to have to make travel arrangements with their vet four months before travel to the continent.

“This will place considerable restrictions on the freedom of movement for their owners,” he said.

He passed on comments from other members of his Facebook group, including Fiona Cameron, who said she was worried about supplies of insulin for cats.

“The Royal College of Veterinary Medicine has confirmed that the ‘cascade rules’ mean that insulin designed for humans can be used to cover shortfalls,” Mr Cook said.

“However, since it is highly likely that there will be a shortage of insulin for humans, it is likely that this will take precedent.

“In any case, insulin cannot be stockpiled due to a short shelf life.”

Ms Cameron’s cat Mono (pictured) needs insulin twice daily, which means no-deal Brexit may put his life in danger, she fears.

“Other medicines are already in short supply. Instead of getting three months’ supply owners are getting one month’s supply at a time.

“Today we learned that 24 medicines are to be rationed immediately, with others sure to follow,” Mr Cook said.

As complications deepen after a no-deal the group members fear that animals would become less and less a priority.

He added that there are also widespread concerns in the farming community that medicines used to protect animals in epidemics of diseases like swine flu will be hit by no-deal meaning they could be obliged to kill their animals.

Another group member, Susanna Leissle, a German citizen who has lived in the UK for most of her life, told Mr Cook she has attended several anti-Brexit protests with her dog Eddie - who she claims 'hates Brexiters' - including a ‘Wooferendum’ march.

She said she fears “English passivity” is going to lead to harm for both people and pets.

“People will abandon their pets if they can’t feed them,” she said.

The National Office of Animal Health (NOAH), a body that promotes best practice and standards in animal medicine in the UK, carried out a survey of over 1,000 UK pet owners and found that two-thirds were worried about how Brexit might interrupt the supply of pet medicines and some may be less readily available.

NOAH Chief Executive Dawn Howard said in a statement: “Leaving the EU without a deal will present a serious risk to the seamless supply of the medicines our animals need to protect their health and prevent disease and suffering.”

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Brexit and Beyond for Britons in France*
Featured Help Guide
What the Brexit deal means for UK residents of France, second homeowners and visitors in 2021 and after
Get news, views and information from France