With the Summer holidays coming up, many Irish people are travelling overseas, with the UK and Europe being the most popular destinations. Up until 2004, it was impossible to take your pets with you on holidays: they would have to spend a compulsory six months in quarantine boarding kennels when they came back into this country. When EU Pet Passports were introduced thirteen years ago, it finally became possible for pets to travel almost as easily as humans within Europe and to North America.
Gino and Luca are good examples of well-travelled Irish pets: the family travel to France and Italy every summer for several months, and the two dogs go with them. They’ve been to many European countries, including Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, as well as the main destinations of France and Italy. The dogs cope well with the travel, and after the initial setting up of pet passports, it’s been very straight forward.
Even the initial set up is not complicated now. Each dog needs to be microchipped, but that is compulsory for every dog in Ireland since April 2016 in any case. Next, a vaccination against rabies has to be given, and a special official pet passport needs to be issued. Originally, pet passports could only be issued directly by the Department of Agriculture, but for some time now, private vet clinics have been allowed to keep these in stock, supplying them directly to pet owners. This means that it is quicker and easier than ever to get one for your pet.
It’s important to plan pet travel in advance: the pet passport does not become valid until at least three weeks have passed since the rabies vaccine, to ensure that the travelling animal has full immunity against this disease.
It’s simple to travel to the UK or Europe: you just need to have your pet passport with you in case a port official asks to see it. It’s more complicated coming home from the continent to the UK or to Ireland: before arriving at the departure port, you need to visit a local vet in France (or whichever country you are leaving for the UK or Ireland), and a special type of dewormer needs to be given by the vet, and certified in the pet passport. This is to prevent the introduction of a particularly dangerous type of tapeworm to Ireland and the UK.
Luca can be a difficult dog to give tablets to, and on one occasion, the family had to find a different local vet to ensure that the correct dose of the right type of anti-worm medication had definitely been given. Port officials can be very strict, so it’s important to ensure that all of the correct boxes in the pet passport have been completed and signed properly.
The trickiest part about pet travel in Europe is now the actual means of transport, rather than official restrictions and regulations on travel. While it’s commonplace for pets to travel with owners in the aeroplane cabin on the European continent and in North America, this isn’t usually done on flights leaving Ireland, and it can even be difficult to book a place for a dog in the hold. For this reason, the Bradys always take the fast ferry when they travel with their dogs. They usually leave the dogs in the car, where they are happy to stay in their beds in the back of the car, in the same place that they are when driving on the roads. There’s an option to have them in a kennel on the ferry, but when they did this once, the dogs seemed to find it more stressful. Like ourselves, dogs definitely prefer the comfort of their own beds!