Today (March 2) is the 10th anniversary of the Pet Travel Scheme which was originally championed by Lady Mary Fretwell. For more than 100 years prior to the approval of the Pet Travel Scheme, the United Kingdom had a strictly enforced quarantine program in effect. Bring in a dog, cat, guinea pig or rabbit, and they had to spend six months in one of 80 quarantine kennels in Great Britain, with virtually no exercise and with only the kennels’ contracted veterinarians to check them out. There were no uniform statutes governing these kennels–the kennel owners voluntarily agreed to provide respectable care, but this often was lacking.
“My husband was in the Foreign Service, so this meant that each time we returned to England from a post our basset hound had to go through that awful quarantine,” says Lady Mary Fretwell. “Over the years, we could see how the quarantine conditions got worse and worse.”
The final straw came in 1987, when Lady Mary and Sir John Fretwell returned to England from their final post in Paris. “We came back with our basset hound,” Lady Fretwell says, “and it was a terrible quarantine experience. Our beloved Bertie, our favorite of all the bassets we’ve had over the years, was a different dog after this horrible experience, and died soon afterwards. This pushed us into doing something about the quarantine situation in the UK.”
The result was an organization called “Passports for Pets,” and because of the untiring efforts by the Fretwells and 10,000 members and many volunteers who pushed for changes in the pet entry system, there is now in place a specific method of bringing cats and dogs into the UK without going through quarantine.
A happy note is that over 10,000 pets have been brought into the UK without any incident of rabies since the inception of the program as of the 10th anniversary. The Pet Travel Scheme was certainly a victory for pets traveling to the UK!
Updated information on bringing a pet to the UK.