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Rabies scare from illegal import

AN IMPORTED Akita-cross has sparked a rabies alert in Yorkshire, after allegedly being smuggled into the UK in a car from Slovakia.

It is feared that the dog, which was not properly vaccinated, could have been carrying the incurable disease. It was seized by officers from Bradford Council's animal health and dog warden service, but was put down when the owners refused to pay the quarantine bill.

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth, the Council's executive member for the environment and culture, said: "If someone catches rabies there is nearly a 100 per cent chance that they will die from it.

This type of action is absolutely vital if we are to keep the UK free from rabies. It's a disease that we don't have but is endemic in parts of Europe."

A council spokesman said: "We have never handled a case like this before where a dog has been imported illegally. Allegations have been made that there are other dogs in the area that may have been brought into the country in similar circumstances. Our investigations are ongoing. We are appealing to the people of Bradford who have information about illegally imported dogs and their whereabouts to come forward.

Vet Lawrence Doddy, of the Shipley and Idle veterinary centres, said: "I myself have not seen any cases such as this but it is a major concern if dogs that could be infected with rabies are being brought into the country illegally.’

Anyone with information should call Bradford Council's Animal Health Team on (01274) 434629.