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RAF MILDENHALL, England -- The quarantine regulations that have been place here for seventy years say that all mammals coming into the UK must be quarantined for six months.

But a recent adjustment to those laws now makes it possible for cats and dogs to be brought into the UK with little or no quarantine incarceration, if they have been prepared for entry according to the strict rules of the new Pet Travel Scheme, known as PETS.

The PETS regulations can be found on the web site belonging to the UK's Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (known as DEFRA). Visit it at www.defra.gov.uk

You must do everything demanded by DEFRA and in the right order. The microchip must be inserted before you do anything else, as any vaccinations your pet may have had before the chip was inserted do not count for the purpose of the PETS regulations. Some US vets have been telling clients that so long as their pet has a current rabies shot, it doesn't need another after the chip has been inserted, but this info is just plain WRONG.

Don't let this frighten you, but just be aware that, according to the Rabies Order of 1974, any mammal brought to the UK without the correct paperwork will either be put into quarantine, re-exported, or destroyed, and its owners prosecuted. In your case, a slip-up in the Pet Travel Scheme preparation would mean your pet would be placed in a quarantine facility here.

If you're outside the UK and need to check that you've done all your PETS preparation correctly, call the PETS Helpline on 0044 207 238 6951 (that's DEFRA's main switchboard number, and you'll need to select option 1 from the options their recording will offer you). From inside the UK you can call them direct on 0870 241 1710.

Arriving in the UK

1. If you've got all your Pet Scheme preparation right, you'll be able to bring your pet away from the airport with you. If you'll be staying in a TLF once you reach the base, however, you'll need to fix up boarding kennel accommodation for your pet whilst you're in-processing and looking for a home, as they're not allowed to live with you in the TLFs.

The three nearest that are most popular with our Americans, are
a. Fiveways Kennels/Cattery on (0 if you're calling from inside the UK)1638 711917
b. Church Farm Kennels/Cattery on (0)1353 675400.
c. Pine Farm Kennels on (0)1842 860432 

2. If you know that your pet has not yet completed the entire six months Pet Scheme preparation, and will have to go into quarantine for the time remaining, you need to apply for a license to bring your pet into the UK and into a government-certified quarantine facility. The quarantine facility of your choice will help you to do that.

The Quarantine Facility (QF)

The nearest QFs for both cats and dogs are;

1. Little Acre Quarantine Kennels and Cattery near Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire, about an hour's drive from the base, is run by Liz Riding and her family. You can contact them on (0)1733 840291 or via their email/website at lizriding@btconnect.com Their fax number is (0)1733 840348.

2. Four-in-Hand Kennels and Cattery at Sharnbrook, near Bedford, about 80 minutes drive from the base, run by Derek Stephens and Kay Cooper. You can call them on (0)1234 781431, visit their web site at www.fourinhand@micromat.net or email them at derek@fourinhand.co.uk

When your pet arrives in the UK it will be collected by the quarantine van and driven to the QF. Then, when the six month preparation requirement has been fulfilled, take the facility manager your PETS paperwork and ask him/her to apply for your pet's early release (that means early release from the full sixth month incarceration mandatory for animals that have had no PETS preparation at all).