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Sally in France

Practical experience from taking a dog to deepest rural France.

An interesting foray into the problems of taking your pets on a twinning visit from Anne & Jack Loader of the Hartford Twinning Committee.

Some thoughts on the PETS scheme after taking our dog Sally to the Limousin for three weeks in September 2000. We have three dogs but we thought we would experiment with one as it would be only one third of the cost to sort out if we had problems. We used Eurotunnel as we didn't think it fair to leave the dog in the car for 7 hours on the Portsmouth - Le Havre overnight service we would normally have used, with all the strange noises and motions. In the end, we made four visits to our local French vet and phoned the Agricultural Attach? at the British Embassy in Paris before we got the paperwork sorted out. But, it was all OK in the end and Sally had a marvellous time! We hope that you find these notes useful and you have a pleasant visit to France. Of course, nothing in these notes has any official status so for the definitive information check the Defra website

We have now done the trip several times, after the first trip with all three dogs, and you may be interested in a few more thoughts when you have ploughed through this lot!
Jack and Anne Loader

Get the UK documents from the vet in good time and double check that everything is filled in and that as far as you can establish it is all correct and there is nothing missing. If you are going somewhere you go frequently you might consider getting a dog tag with the French phone number/address on it and adding it to the dog's collection of things on its collar. This is just in case it wanders off as locals would expect it to be tattooed with its details.
Make sure that the booking you make/have made to return to the UK gives a reasonable chance of finding a vet open for business in France between 24 and 48 hours before you are going to be boarding the ferry/shuttle. It is a bit difficult to anticipate French official holidays (check with the carrier) but if you plan to travel late on Monday evening you can expect to have problems as the local vet will almost certainly be closed on Sunday.
Some carriers may limit the times at which pets can travel. Eurotunnel, for example, do not allow pet check-in for departures after 10pm. There is presumably also an earliest time of day too, but we didn't establish what it is. It will also probably change depending on the use that is made of this process. (Note: Now Eurotunnel are offering a 24 hour service.)
Get one (or more) set(s) of photocopies of all the documents.
When you arrive at your destination in France go immediately to your local vet and make an appointment to have the treatment against ecto- and endo-parasites (ticks and worms) done between 24 and 48 hours before you are due to board the ferry/shuttle to return to England. (See the list of useful phrases at the back, taken from the excellent UK Embassy in Paris website- which has lots of other useful information).
This will establish that the surgery is open when you need the treatment and gives you time to look elsewhere if it isn't. Tell the staff that you will need the official certificate to show that the treatment has been done and give them a set of the photocopies of the dog's documents. It is probably a good idea to have to dog with you so they get used to the idea that it belongs to you.
If your location is as rural as ours they probably won't have heard of the UK PETS travel scheme ("Programme de Voyage des Animaux de Compagnie") and won't have the faintest idea what to do. The request for the official certificate may well bring very blank looks. It is most likely that you will - at least at first - be dealing with the receptionist, who can reasonably not be expected to be au fait with such complicated matters. Even the vets may not have paid a great deal of attention to any national directives they may have received, not expecting to be bothered with implementing them.
You may need to explain that they should obtain the official certificate from the veterinary authorities (the Syndicat National des V?t?rinaires d?Exercice Lib?ral or SNVEL). The official advice is to order it a week in advance. Information on the procedure for getting a certificate is available from the SNVEL on telephone number 04 72 31 03 72. Click here to see a copy of our original certificate It is likely to be very helpful if you print it out and then you can show the vet exactly the form they need to get for you; note the original has a coloured watermark, is a two sheet self carbonating set and we have erased the signature and name of the vet. As we understand the procedure the French Government, quite reasonably, wants to know how many UK dogs have visited France and has mandated SNVEL to manage the system and collect the information on its behalf. Using the information they have about the dog from the photocopies the vet's staff will contact SNVEL who will send them a numbered (top right hand side) certificate for the specific dog. Apparently, in extremis, it is possible for this to be done by e-mail or fax - but we haven't verified that.
The vet may be concerned that the dog is not tattooed (a normal French requirement) and you will have to explain that, under the terms of the PETS scheme because it is a British dog, not a French dog, it doesn't have to be tattooed but it does have a microchip and point out the number on the Export certificate, which is in French.
The next potential problem is that the vet may not have a microchip reader and may be reluctant to issue the certificate with the microchip number on it . The "off the record" advice in these circumstances is to point out that if the microchip number you and the UK vet says belongs to the dog isn't correct there is no come-back on the French vet. It is you that will have the problem when it is checked at the port so you are confident it is correct and anyway the dog meets the description on the documents.
In our case, the Vet used Frontline and some worm tablets and went to great deal of trouble to stuff the tablets down Sally's throat. If your dogs is as amenable as one of our other dogs, who will eat anything you give him, it is worth being prepared to point that out to avoid an unneccessary struggle.
Immediately you have the opportunity, check the details on the French certificate for completeness, especially the time of treatment, and its agreement with the UK documents. You can save time later if you complete the UK Import form (PETS 3) at the same time. Declare the dog when you check-in at the port and give yourself at least an extra 15 minutes for it to be dealt with. We found the people at the Eurotunnel check-in very pleasant and helpful and we got the impression that they weren't inundated with dogs and were actually quite pleased to have something to do. There is an associated enclosure where the dog can be exercised by one member of the family whilst another deals with the paperwork.
The dog must remain in the car throughout the journey. If, like us, you have an estate car when the attendant parks you on the Eurotunnel train you might want to remind them that you have a dog in the back (you do get a special additional white sticker which goes on the departure letter thing which you hang on your mirror) and ask them to leave a little more space behind your car so if there was an evacuation of the carriage you would be able to get the dog out.

Some additional thoughts...

We stopped at Keele Services for a very quick walk round, which established that this journey wasn't a rather longer than usual car trip for a walk and the "We're going for a walk" barking from Sally ceased. We only had one or two barks in the 2200 miles she travelled.

It can get very hot in the back of the car, outside temperatures reached 36?C and we don't have air conditioning - which isn't effective when the car is stopped anyway. We put the screens with suckers on them on the back and rear side windows and found they didn't impair the driver's visibility significantly. We found an anti-splash dog bowl in Halfords and ensured that there was water in it any time Sally was in the car.

We put additional padding on the dog guard, in case we had to stop suddenly - there are lots more accidents in France than the UK and you can legally go faster ~83mph on the autoroutes. We also put a "doggie duvet" on the floor to make it more comfortable.

How do we deduce that Sally enjoyed herself? She took a very active interest in everything, explored everywhere, made herself thoroughly at home, seemed more alert and bright-eyed than usual, found herself a young French Labrador as a toy-boy (in 2000 she was 13!) and a couple of hours after we returned to Hartford she was insisting she wanted to get back in the car when we went to collect her pups from their dog-sitter.

Useful phrases (courtesy of the British Embassy in Paris website).

I wish to travel/return with my cat/dog to Great Britain under the Pet Travel Scheme.
Je veux entrer/retourner en Grande-Bretagne avec mon chat/mon chien dans le cadre du "Programme de Voyage des Animaux de Compagnie".

Can you read my pet?s microchip ? Do you have a microchip reader ? The microchip is here.
Pouvez-vous lire le transpondeur/la micropuce de mon animal ? Avez-vous un lecteur de micropuce ? La puce est ici.

My pet has to be treated against ticks and worms (Rhipicephalus sanguineus and Echinococcus multilocularis). Can you do this ?
My pet has to be treated against ticks and worms (Rhipicephalus sanguineus and Echinococcus multilocularis). Can you do this ?

The treatment for ticks must be an acaricide. The treatment for tapeworm must contain praziquantel.
Le m?dicament contre les tiques doit ?tre un acaricide. Le m?dicament contre les vers doit contenir du praziquantel.

You will need to give me an official certificate to show that you have treated my pet. It must show the day and time that you did the treatment.
Je dois vous demander un certificat officiel prouvant que vous avez trait? mon animal. Il doit indiquer le jour et l'heure du traitement.

My cat/dog has been vaccinated against rabies and successfully blood tested.
Mon chat/chien a ?t? vaccin? contre la rage, et test? positif.

My vet took the blood sample for the blood test on ........
Mon veterinaire a fait le pr?l?vement pour le test sanguin le .........

Can you give me an official entry certificate for travel to the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme ?
Pouvez-vous me d?livrer un certificat officiel d'autorisation d'importation de mon animal en Grande-Bretagne ?

I already have an official certificate for my pet to re-enter the UK. I got it from my vet there. Do you want to see it ?
J'ai d?j? un certificat officiel pour le retour de mon animal en Grande-Bretagne. Je l'ai obtenu chez mon v?t?rinaire en Grande-Bretagne. Voulez-vous le voir ?

Official certificates are supplied in France by the SNVEL.
Les certificats officiels sont fournis en France par le SNVEL.

My pet is not resident in France. Therefore it does not have to be tattooed.
Mon animal ne r?side pas en France. Il n'a donc pas besoin d'?tre tatou?.

Contacts

MAFF PETS Helpline - 00 44 870 241 1710 (08:30 to 17:00 Monday to Friday but don't forget the hour time difference)
Syndicat National des V?t?rinaires d?Exercice Lib?ral (SNVEL) - 04 72 31 03 72
British Embassy in Paris, Agricultural Attach? (David Barnes) - 01 44 51 33 11

Copyright © in this article belongs to Anne Loader Publications who have very kindly given us permission to reproduce it here.

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