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EMAIL RECEIVED FROM TIM FINLAY – May 7, 2020:

The UAE Ministry has attached a new Covid Annex to their Import Permit and DEFRA the UK government body has refused point blank to allow their OV government vets to use their government stamps to sign off on this UAE annex.

At the moment, and until both the MOCCAE and DEFRA meet on some sort of governmental level NO PETS can leave from the UK to the UAE.

I have attached a copy of the annex and to be fair in my opinion the annex section in question is asking a vet to sign off and stamp a declaration that the pet has not been in contact with a human or other pet with covid-19 in the last 14 days and is not showing signs of respiratory illness.

How can a vet in good faith sign off on something they have no way of knowing is actually true?

It has been suggested to MOCCAE that perhaps that particular section be removed and becomes part of the "Owners Declaration" signed off by the owner which then the vet can sign and complete the Export Health Certificate as normal. This means that the UAE ministry has any comeback or issue with the pet owner who is in the country with the pet.

The only problem is that TH MOCCAE are not budging either and to compound the issue other countries are signing off on the covid annex.

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Response from Nick Foden-Ellis (Starwood Animal Transport Limited) regarding Tim’s Email, May 7, 2020:

Jim [Davies at Snoopy Pets in UAE] and I have been liaising regarding this, so I can confirm that DEFRA are talking to MOCCAE about this, as per my attached email and have listed a number of requirements for UK OVs, if they wish to sign the UAE Declaration.

As Tim Finley says other countries state vets have already signed these, including the Aussie’s, it appears it is mainly the UK and US that are saying no. As long as that is the case, MOCCAE will continue to insist on it.

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From Nick Foden-Ellis to Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) / UK – May 6, 2020:

As you are probably aware, MOCCAE in the UAE are stipulating that any pet exports must be accompanied by the attached signed declaration from a Govt vet.  We and several other agents have pointed out that no OV will sign this document, as it is not one of your issued documents.

I have asked if we got a similar worded declaration from owners and then had the OV just use their practice stamp, whether that would suffice, but was given short shrift and told that the Australian Govt vets are signing them, as are several other national vets.

MOCCAE will not budge on this and see it as an issue for you guys.  Apparently the USDA in America are not happy with it either.  This effectively means that no pets can move from the UK to the UAE.

I appreciate you are busy with both COVID-19 and BREXIT preparations, but could someone engage with them on this subject as a matter of urgency please?  We have several pets waiting to re-patriated with their families.

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Response from APHA Enquiries Team back to Nick – May 6, 2020:

Please see the below advice from our Veterinary Officers:

“Almost certainly an OV will not have the knowledge to be able to certify; either that the animal has not been in contact with a positive Covid case within the last 14 days, or that the animal has been isolated under their supervision for 14 days prior to export without showing any respiratory illness.

Agents are therefore going to have to liaise with the certifying OV well in advance; to allow them to put procedures in place to obtain the evidence necessary to certify; eg by agreeing & checking isolation procedures at the exporter’s home, for 14 days.

If the OV then comes to us explaining what procedures they have put in place, or what evidence they have, to allow them to certify one of the statements, we will provide a derogation to add the wording to the EHC.

I must stress however that the OV must have the knowledge, following RCVS principles of Certification, to certify the statements as these are not easy statements to confirm.“

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Response from Nick back to APHA Pet Exports Team – May 6, 2020:

Thanks for your response, although I was a little disappointed to read it. 

I sit on the Board of IPATA, the International Pet & Animal Transport Association and have done for the last 5 years.  Possibly the biggest frustration for us as an industry, is the lack of direct communication between national veterinary authorities on issues such as this.

Putting the onus on individual OVs to do all of what you suggest, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most of them are not making home visits, seems hugely unfair.  I would also highlight that we, the agents, are often not getting 14 days’ notice of flights, as most airlines are operating adhoc schedules at present and notify us of upcoming flights maybe 5 days in advance.

Would it not be much more simple for you, the APHA, as the UK’s Government agency responsible, to liaise directly with MOCCAE in the UAE to agree a way forward?

I have cc’d my colleague Jim Davies, the IPATA Regional Director for the Middle East & Africa, who is also MD of Snoopy Pets in the UAE, in the hope that between the APHA, MOCCAE and Jim and I, we can work this through.

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Response from APHA / International Trade and Artificial Breeding Controls back to Nick – May 7:

Defra are communicating directly with the UAE, providing evidence from the OIE to demonstrate that such requirements are unnecessary. We are doing all we can to try to persuade the Authorities in the UAE to remove such a requirement which is extremely difficult to certify.

However, if the UAE will not be moved, & continue to insist on the requirement then; either the animals do not travel, or the OV will have to find some way of being able to certify the requirement.

We are happy to discuss with the OV how this may be possible but ultimately it will be for them to decide if they can certify. Either way they will require as much notice as possible of this requirement; so that they can implement any measures they deem necessary.

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