Brexit is a potential barrier to blind owners of guide dogs travelling to the continent

Guide dog

Time is running out for the UK government to reach an agreement over pet passports which on 1st January will become a major issue for blind people travelling with their guide dogs. Currently they can jump on a plane and travel to the continent but without an agreement they will have to go through what seems like an endless stream of hoops and hurdles with months of preparation before they can travel. It’s an apparently overlooked aspect of the negotiations between the UK and the European Union.

Guide dog

Guide dog. Photo in public domain.

Notwithstanding, the UK government has said that, “It is vitally important that assistant dogs can travel freely alongside their owners after the transition period ends. That is why the UK government has submitted an application to the European Commission to allow this to continue with minimal changes for owners”.

So the UK government is doing something about it but we are down to the 11th hour. Representatives of UK charities including Blind Veterans UK and the Royal National Institute for the Blind have written to the UK government asking the Prime Minister to get on with the deal to allow pets to travel to the continent at the end of the Brexit transition period without veterinary checks. This would more or less replicate the existing pet passport scheme.

If an agreement is not reached the country will have to accept being placed in a tiered system for pets arriving from third-party countries. There are various tiers and if the UK is placed on the bottom tier as an unlisted country a blood sample would have to be taken from a guide dog to be sent to an EU laboratory tests before travelling.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has also intervened and asked the government for clarity as the present situation is causing concern for pet owners and veterinarians. At the moment the advice from the BBA is that pet owners should visit their veterinarian at least four months in advance of their travel date to make sure that all the necessary checks and vaccinations have been carried out.