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Australian Officials Threaten Actor Johnny Depp's Dogs with Euthanasia and Why Export Rules Need to Be Followed

15 May 2015 3:34 PM | Deleted user

Australian officials this week threatened to kill Johnny Depp's two little dogs in a statement that raised eyebrows but is supported by many animal experts.

The scandal, surprisingly centered around Depp's two innocent-looking Yorkshire terriers named Boo and Pistol, provides a harsh reminder about “no exception” regulations governing the transport of animals between countries.

In Depp’s case, he is accused of bringing his dogs into Australia on a private flight and without proper documentation.

“Now Mr. Depp needs to take his dogs back to California, or we’re going to have to euthanize them,” Australian Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said in a televised statement. The BBC reports that Depp is indeed sending his dogs back to the Golden State.

Tanya Espinosa, a spokesperson for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), informed Discovery News that even for a well-traveled individual such as Depp, there is no shortcut to meeting pet export requirements.

“Each country establishes its own rules for entry of animals from the United States and other countries,” Espinosa said. “Travelers need to meet the requirements of the destination country.”

Australia has particularly strict requirements because it is one of just a few dozen countries, such as Iceland and Japan, which are classified as “rabies free.” As such, in addition to having needed vaccinations, testing and permits, “all dogs must complete a minimum 10-day period in an Australian quarantine facility,” Australia’s Department of Agriculture instructs in a factsheet.

Espinosa said that even transporting dogs from one U.S. state to another necessitates important requirements.

“Hawaii, like Australia, is also classified as being rabies free,” she explained, adding that it is the only U.S. state with that distinction.

As a result, Hawaii also has a quarantine law in place that is designed to protect residents and pets from potentially serious health problems associated with the introduction of rabies.

San Diego-based veterinarian Jessica Vogelsang explained that rabies can affect not only dogs, but also cats, cows, skunks, raccoons, foxes, bats, people and other animals.

“Once clinical signs of disease develop,” she said, “it is almost invariably fatal. Despite its presence in many animals, the majority of human exposures worldwide come from our friend the dog.”

Rabies isn’t the only health concern related to dogs either. Many countries also require that dogs be vaccinated against diseases such as distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus. There is particular concern in Australia now over canine influenza virus. Only dogs exported to Oz from the U.S. must be fully vaccinated against this bug, because outbreaks have been reported here.

Since travel requirements for pets can be complicated, the U.K. now offers a Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) program. Essentially a passport for pets, it can help to reduce, or even eliminate, lengthy quarantines. Dog owners using PETS still must meet many requirements, though. Also, certain breeds — such as pit bull terriers, Japanese tosas, Argentinos and Filo Brazilieros — are considered to be “dangerous dogs” in the U.K., and could be seized and killed.

Further, PETS could not have solved Depp’s problem, as it does not override regulations set by Australia’s Department of Agriculture, and primarily applies to pets traveling within the European Union.

It’s clear that many factors affect what pet owners must do to safely and legally transport their animals from one country to another, and even from one U.S. state to another. The originating country, destination country, state (if applicable), breed of animal and more all must be considered.

As Stacy Eckman of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences advises, “it’s important to start preparing early, since interstate moving requires an interstate health certificate, which is issued within ten days of travel, and moving abroad means your pet will need an international health certificate, which takes around thirty days to facilitate.

Detailed instructions for U.S. residents are available at the USDA “Travel with a Pet” section of the USDA’s APHIS website.

Full Story here: http://news.discovery.com/animals/pets/johnny-depps-dogs-why-quarantine-rules-are-strict-150514.htm

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