Policy change on UK animal importation to come
Government has not changed a policy on importing animals from the UK, Environment Minister Marc Bean told the House of Assembly today.
However he warned that “a change will come” following a review to determine what is in Bermuda’s best interest.
Mr Bean’s comments came after hundreds of animals lovers signed a petition in the belief that plans were in place to ban importing puppies and kittens from the United Kingdom.
Government’s veterinary officer Jonathan Nisbett was said to be keen to put a block on the animals after Britain relaxes its rabies regulations on January 1.
Said Mr Bean: “From the outset, let me make it absolutely clear. The Government has not, and I repeat, has not changed its policy regarding the importation of animals from the UK. Recent changes in the UK have required us to review our policy, but that work is just beginning. Should a change in our policy be required, I will advise the public in advance of any such change.
“The Government of the United Kingdom has announced that effective January 1 it will invoke new regulations that will bring its protocol for the importation of pets into line with that of the European Union. The new regulations will permit easier entry of dogs and cats into the UK from European Union member states and EU-approved countries from around the world.“
He continued: “In our view, the United Kingdom’s new protocol falls far short of the recommended protocol established by the World Organization for Animal Health. For us, the new protocol raises the question of whether it leads to an unacceptable risk of the rabies virus being exported in animals coming from the UK, given that such animals may have originated in the UK or travelled there from elsewhere. This is an important consideration as we currently receive approximately 200 animals per year from the United Kingdom. Come January 1, 2012, the UK and Bermuda laws combine to effectively open Bermuda to easily accept animals from 79 other countries.”
Mr Bean added that he anticipated he would receive recommendations on the policy within the next two weeks.
“As indicated in my opening comments, our policy on the importation of dogs and cats from the UK has not changed. However, a change will come. Following our review and a determination of a policy that is in the best interests of Bermuda, I will announce that policy and will ensure that a smooth transition to our new protocol will be made so that all stakeholders can plan appropriately.”