DOGS and cats which have their own pet passports will now be able to travel direct to and from Scotland.
The Rosyth – Zeebrugge ferry has been authorised as the first ever Scottish travel route for qualifying cats and dogs, Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie announced last Monday.
Owners whose pets meet the requirements of the Pet Passport Scheme will now be able to take their pets to selected countries direct from Scotland rather than having to travel through England.
Mr Finnie made the announcement during a visit to the Superfast Terminal in Rosyth. The Minister also met Dorothee Luking and Dougie Bannerman, dog trainers who will directly benefit from the new PETS route when they take their dogs to international competitions.
Mr Finnie said: "The PETS Scheme has been developed to allow owners to take their pets to qualifying countries under strict conditions that ensure the welfare of the animal is protected and the risk to animal health is minimised.
"This ferry route provides Scotland with a vital link to the markets and countries of the newly expanded European Union and beyond.
"The route has already proved hugely popular among Scottish tourists and visitors to our country. Now pet owners can also benefit and avoid a round trip of nearly 1,000 miles via the south of England.
"It is particularly fitting that the ferry is authorised as a PETS route on the second anniversary of the service being introduced. It is a tribute to the hard work done by many people to ensure the service was authorised.
"A direct PETS route from Scotland is also a major boost for Scottish pet owners especially those who take their pets to international competitions and shows."
Yannis Criticos, Superfast Ferries Board Member and Project Director North Sea said: "We are delighted to have received the approval for carrying pets to and from Scotland and we wish to thank the Scottish Executive and all the people who worked hard in the last year to deliver this service."
Dog trainer Dorothee Luking said: "Being able to travel directly from Scotland will be fantastic. In the past, taking my dogs to Europe for training or competition meant a 500 mile drive just to get to and from Dover, but now we will all be able to relax on the ferry. It will take a lot of stress out of travelling for the dogs and for myself!"
On 17th May Superfast Ferries commenced a two-ship service in the Rosyth-Zeebrugge-Rosyth route linking for the first time Scotland directly to Continental Europe by sea.
Superfast Ferries was selected among 42 operators taking part in an international tender process as the best qualified to serve the needs of passengers and freight in this first daily direct link between Scotland and the continent.