After the successful launch of resources for vets in England last year, the BVA have rolled out UK-wide compliance flowcharts and guidance documents that outline what vets in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should consider if they wish to report a case of illegal pet importation
Following the successful launch last year of a compliance flowchart and guidance document for vets in England, the BVA have teamed up with the National Animal Health and Welfare Panel (NAHWP) in England and Wales, Advice Direct Scotland (ADS) and Trading Standards Scotland (TSS), and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland to clearly set out what vets need to know about reporting illegal importation, wherever they work in the UK.
In their Voice of the Veterinary Profession surveys in recent years, vets have mentioned finding it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to report concerns to the relevant authorities. Other concerns have included breaching client confidentiality, a lack of proof or sufficient evidence to investigate, a perceived lack of interest from local authorities if a case was reported, and uncertainty about whom to contact and how to report suspicions.
The new suite of downloadable, UK-wide compliance flowcharts and guidance documents, supported by Dogs Trust, outline what vets in each country should consider if they wish to report an illegally imported pet, including whom to contact, how to find the appropriate contact details, what action to expect, as well as how to navigate client confidentiality and data protection. In Scotland, vets will have access to an online reporting form at consumeradvice.scot, which has been developed by ADS along with Trading Standards Scotland.
BVA President Daniella Dos Santos said:
“Veterinary teams can often be the first to suspect that an animal may have been illegally imported when an owner takes their pet for its first check-up. But our surveys have identified a compelling need for clearly defined routes and mechanisms for vets to more easily report suspected cases of illegal importation.
“Our flowchart and supporting guidance for vets in England last year were very well received by the profession and we are happy to be expanding them to empower vets across the UK to report any such cases.
“I’d encourage colleagues to use the resources if they wish to report any suspicions to relevant authorities and thereby help tackle the scourge of illegal importation.”
Fiona Richardson, Chief Officer of Trading Standards Scotland, said:
“Trading Standards Scotland are delighted to support a new resource which will aid the prevention of the illicit puppy trade across Scotland, which is one of our priority areas.”
Andrew Bartlett, Chief Executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said:
“As Scotland’s new consumer advice service, we are keen to make it easier for vets across Scotland to report suspicions about illegally imported animals, as well as any other concerns about breeding, selling or animal welfare.
“By hosting this practical online form we hope that more cases will be reported to us, which we can then pass on to our colleagues in Trading Standards and local authorities for investigation.”
The compliance flowcharts and accompanying guidance notes for Scotland are available to download here