Although many people may view the Pets Passport Scheme, as something that was long overdue, I would like to add a warning, and urge people to think very carefully before taking dogs abroad on holiday with them.  Even if thinking of  bringing dogs to live here in the UK from overseas, please test and test again.  Take all the advice available - but please be careful.
 
If not for what this Government did regarding foot and mouth i.e. the slaughter of millions of healthy animals, alarm bells would not be ringing in my head. I love dogs, I hate to see them suffer,(in any Country) but I would also hate to see our own dogs here in the UK suffer needlessly and end up being destroyed.
 
We are lucky here in the UK, we do not have any real life threatening viruses or diseases, that can cross from man to dog.  Most of the viruses here  etc in dogs, can be prevented.  It is only our own ignorance that stops and prevents dogs dying here in the UK.  Sadly, this is simply not the case in many other Countries. 
 
Dogs that come into the UK, whether from holiday or other reasons are bringing diseases in.  These diseases are spreading to other dogs (that have never been out of the Country).  True these cases are rare at the moment (but they do exist)  Probably, because many Vets are not clued up, and are not aware of what to look for.  This will/is changing.  One such disease Leishmaniasis is transmitted by the female Sandfly.  It is endemic in many parts of the World.  The dog acting as the main reservoir. It can be passed from dog to human (so is classed as a zoonose) people with suppressed immune systems are at risk, they also suggest dogs with this disease should not be around small children.  It is not part of the passport for pets scheme, neither is it illegal to bring a dog into this Country that already has it.  Leishmanisis or Kala-azar as it is referred to in the dog form, is a very vague disease.  It can take anything from 3 months to several years to manifest and show itself. At the moment there is NO vaccine for man or dog. The drugs do not cure the dog, or remove the infection risk. At best the animal is kept in remission.  In endemic Countries they some 40% of all dogs have it - 4 in 10 dogs. 
 
I have over the past weeks been speaking to several of the Veterinary Tropical Disease Centres;  As well as finding out more information. I asked why this potentially devastating disease was NOT part of the Pets Passport Scheme.  DEFRA it would seem, are only concerned about Human transmitted viruses/diseases i.e. rabies.  Perhaps they should read more about Leishmaniasis!  Especially as there is now evidence that the sandfly is not needed to act as the vector. Which brings me to the point of this warning,
 
Once upon a time I would have said we would never kill millions of animals for a simple virus called foot and mouth.  A virus of which there is NO threat to man!  Once upon a time we did not have the Animal Health Act.  We as owners of the animals still had the right and the law on our side.  Today as a result of this Act, we have NOTHING!
 
I do wonder if anything of which I write, or any of the other many viruses and diseases ever did  enter this Country and start to spread, what would be the outcome for the dogs caught up in it? One Vet told me that 'rabies is a low risk' some of these other diseases have the potential to become a far greater concern and risk? 
 
This is just a small account of the information I have been acquiring.  What I have learned does cause me concern. 
 
I  once believed that here in the UK, we were kind and caring.  That we would never kill animals out of hand, and if anyone ever tried we as a Country would unite.  Well they did kill them, and hardly anyone batted an eyelid.  Would it be any different a second time round.  Please,  let us not have to put that to the test in order to find out the answer.
 
Coleen