The Guide Dogs organisation have expressed their “disappointment” that assistance dogs are not exempt from new rules for bringing pets to Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
After the United Kingdom left the European Union (EU) on 1 January 2021 many rules and regulations changed, including how people can travel with pets and obtaining a Pet Passport.
Speaking to BBC, a spokesperson for Guide Dogs emphasises the new barriers this will create for assistance dog owners, stating:
“They now have to make the same preparations to travel to Northern Ireland as if they were going to France, Germany or another European country.
“The [UK] government and the EU [need] to come to an agreement which gives assistance dog owners the same freedoms they enjoyed under the Pet Passport Scheme.”
As a charity, Guide Dog works across the UK, including breeding and training centres in Northern Ireland.
Since 2010, 250 guide dog puppies have been trained in Northern Ireland. However, the charity has now had to suspend sending pups to Northern Ireland.
Due to new Irish sea border rules, dogs will require a rabies vaccination to enter Northern Ireland, which cannot take place until the pup is 12-weeks old; after vaccination another three week wait will be required.
This is an issue as pups will be 15-weeks old before they are allowed to travel, but the optimum training time for guide dogs is between nine and 16-weeks.
Under new rules, the UK has Part 2 listed status under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, meaning that people travelling from GB with their pets and assistance dogs will need to follow new requirements in order to travel to the EU and Northern Ireland.
If you want to take your pet from England, Scotland or Wales to Northern Ireland, you will have to obtain an AHC, as if you were going on holiday to the EU.
Understanding the importance of assistance animals, pets travelling from Great Britain into Northern Ireland will not be subject to routine compliance checks until 1 February 2021.