THE Spanish College of Vets yesterday presented the new passport for dogs, cats and ferrets, which is now obligatory for travellers who want to take their pets with them when travelling within the European Union.
The pets passport has already been recognised as a requisite for travel by the Balearic government.
Juan José Badiola, head of the Council of Veterinary Colleges of Spain, explained that the passport has been introduced under European Commission directives and will function as a European Union health card to control vaccinations and safeguard the wellbeing of animals and people. Its distribution via veterinary clinics and centres will be regulated by the autonomous regions which have already accepted it, which, in addition to the Balearics, are Andalucia, Aragon, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla-Leon, Extremadura, Madrid and Valencia.
The passport will be the official travel document for pets, although it will not substitute the existing vet's card, which gives all the information on the state of the pet's health in much more detail. Badiola said that if anyone is found travelling in Europe with a dog, cat or ferret without a passport, the animal will be confiscated. He added that it would be of great help in preventing rabies, as dogs from North Africa, where it is rife, travel through Spain to other European countries.
He expressed his concern that some regions do not make the anti-rabies jab obligatory for pets, although he added that Spain is free of rabies, thanks to the systematic vaccinations carried out since the 1950s.
The United Kingdom, Ireland and Sweden not only require the European passport but also demand that the pet's antibodies be measured days before they enter the country to test that the vaccinations have really had the desired effect.
Ferrets have been included because in countries such as the US it is already the third most popular pet.