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(Updated 05/02/01)

New Quarantine Rules

by Nick Mays

Following on from the proposal to align all regulations relating to the import of animals into a single piece of legislation, MAFF has issued proposals to update the UK’s quarantine rules to ensure “best modern practice” in the country’s 61 quarantine kennels, with the emphasis firmly on animal welfare.

Specific standards will need to be met at all quarantine premises. New requirements include the provision of a staff changing area, a cold water supply to each block of animal pens and larger pens for giant breeds of dog. Gravel floors will no longer be permitted.

A separate animal care room will also have to be provided, with a washable table for examining animals, a hot and cold water supply, power supply, lockable cupboard, first aid kit and a detectable light source.
The new legislation will also enforce a number of requirements which are at present contained in a voluntary code of practice for quarantine premises. These include: minimum pen sizes for small, medium and large breeds of dog, minimum pen size for cats and minimum space requirements for any animals sharing units. Sleeping areas will need to be hearted to a minimum temperature of 7oC, as will vehicles used for transporting animals.

Operators of quarantine premises will have to meet a number of requirements listed in a Schedule to the legislation.
* Produce and implement a written training plan for staff.
* Produce written guidance for staff on the dangers of rabies and necessary precautions.
* Ensure all staff wear protective clothing.
* Agree procedures with the District Veterinary Manager (DVM) on biting incidents and basic safety.
* Advise staff of their duty to ensure the welfare of animals in their care

Minimum visiting times will also be made available to pet owners of two hours a day between the hours of 10.00 and 17.00 weekdays and four hours at weekends.

Operators would also need to appoint a veterinary surgeon to act as official Quarantine Veterinary Surgeon (QVS).

It will be the responsibility of the QVS to ensure that all animals have clean water available at all times, cats were provided with at least one litter tray per pen which would be cleaned out each day, and that dogs were provided with an object to chew.

The QVS would also liaise with the operator to set minimum feeding frequencies of once in 24 hours for dogs and twice in 24 hours for cats. Also, the operator would be told to advise owners with 24 hours if their pert showed any signs of ill health.

The implementation of the PETS scheme has led to a 60% fall in business for quarantine kennel owners, and the closure of several of the 61 premises nation-wide is predicted.

MAFF estimates that the new requirements will cost quarantine kennel operators between £500 and £5,000 per premises to implement. MAFF states that the Government has given the ‘quarantine industry’ clear notice of the changes, but is adamant that compensation for loss of business or the cost of making improvements will not be paid.