The thought of leaving a distraught pet in kennels is leading to increasing numbers of holiday-makers deciding to take their four legged family members with them.
Travellers are finding it less stressful than they expected to get their dogs a pet passport. Leaving kennels with the sound of a pet whimpering – or worse howling ‘don’t leave me’ – as you drive away, possibly in tears, isn’t the perfect way to start a holiday.
Ferry company, DFDS reports an increased number of canine travellers – 364 more pets carried per month (on average) from 2017 to 2018. In 2017 DFDS carried 3,539 per month on average, which increased to 3,903 in 2018.
Numbers have more than doubled on their Amsterdam-Newcastle crossing since 2017 (from 701 to 1631 per year). On the Copenhagen-Oslo route numbers went up from 106 to 378 from 2017-2018 and stands at 270 so far for 2019.
Vets, travel companies and other travellers are reassuring pet owners that the Pet Travel Scheme works efficiently. You do have to plan ahead because under current scheme guidelines the last rabies vaccination must be more than 21 days from the travel date but kennels expect vaccinations to be completed 14 days before so a seasoned traveller will be used to meeting these health check criteria.
Jeremy Stattersfield from Burnham House Veterinary Surgery in Dover trains the DFDS onboard team on pet first aid for the company. He said: ‘DFDS has done a wonderful job and is very pet friendly. We have helped to train the onboard staff in pet first aid so they know what to look for if a dog isn’t well while on the crossing. It makes a big difference if a situation arises, staff have the knowledge to help owners who may not know what to do, and that knowledge can help to save a dog’s life.’
The Burnham House Veterinary Surgery has noticed a steady growth in applications for pet passports, although uncertainty over what will happen after Brexit is having an impact this year. Mr Stattersfield advises pet owners should plan well in advance so that their travel plans will go as smoothly as possible and it is important to liaise with your vet at least 4 months beforehand, as they will be up to date with the current DEFRA guidelines regarding Brexit.
To travel in Europe the pet must be microchipped (which must take place before or at the same time as the rabies vaccination);have a pet passport and be vaccinated against rabies.
Jeremy Stattersfield advises owners to take the ferry early or late in the day during hot weather and remember to leave their car with windows open to provide good ventilation. He added: ‘If a pet is in a carrier avoid blocking ventilation slats with luggage and keep the animal in a well-ventilated part of the car. Most importantly remember – if you are heading to the bar leave your pet a drink too!‘
The overall price for passport and rabies is around £100-£150 – all puppies are microchipped by law in UK. This compares to around £20 per day plus VAT for a large dog in UK kennels, or for dog hotel accommodation, the daily rate can rise to £40 daily.
Pet-friendly cabins or kennels on DFDS’ Newcastle to Amsterdam route cost £30 per pet each way and it’s the same price to leave your pet in the car for the journey, but not recommended. On the Dover-Calais route pets have to remain in cars and its £15 per pet each way. On the Newhaven-Dieppe route pets have to remain in vehicles and its £18 per pet each way.
Ray Ferris, from Newcastle upon Tyne frequently travelled to Germany by ferry with his Bichon, Bibi, and said: ‘Pet travel with DFDS is excellent. We never had any problem travelling with her, she was made very comfortable in our car and returning with her at Dunkirk was no problem at all.’
The emotional cost to dog and owner being apart, seems to be making the pet passport price one more and more pet lovers are happy to pay.