Willie the Plott

Willie the Plott in quarantine

Willie the Plott in quarantine

My regular pilgrimage to the quarantine kennels is over for the day, 30 days and counting now to what we have labelled “Free Willie Day” when he will finally be released back to us after 6 long months in quarantine.

Poor Willie the Plott Hound, what a strange odyssey. A rescue dog from a Vermont Shelter he has traveled from New York to Vancouver, B.C. and back to New York on a 10,000 mile road trip and finally couple of thousand miles or so to his new home, for now, across the pond to England – all since January of this year. En route he said goodbye to 5 horses he was never very sure about but with whom he had reached a workable accommodation, lost his companion to old age, soaked himself in the Pacific surf from Blaine to San Francisco, waited patiently as we stood, jaws agape at the marvels of the Painted Desert, visited old friends in Colorado and now found new ones in quarantine. He has left behind the sometimes 7 months of winter in NY and exchanged it for the 6 months of rain which passes for an English summer.

He has borne it all with far more resilience than his human companions, relishing new sights and smells and for a dog who ordinarily prefers the ho-hum of routine, he has adapted incredibly well to it all. With no spatial awareness and a penchant for acting like a small dog contained in a big dog’s body, he has become the kennel clown with his peculiar bugling howl which he favours over a bark.

Bringing an animal into the UK with its draconian quarantine regulations was simplified in 2001 with the introduction of the Pets Travel Scheme(PETS) originally proposed, it is claimed, by none other than the Monster Raving Loony Party of the UK some 15 years earlier – well done those people! The problem with PETS is that you have to know six months prior to your departure that you are actually leaving and start the process of getting your animal documented. If you don’t then, as in Willie’s case, even if your animal is micro-chipped and has documented rabies shots from an early age to quarantine you must go.

It is indeed harsh and we have taken much criticism from many including the APHIS vet who (eventually) signed our export papers but our belief through it all is that when you commit to a shelter animal such as this you commit for life. For Willie the future and the possibilities of re-homing were bleak indeed.

The rules for PETS are complicated, there is much confusion and patchy understanding. There can be differing export procedures depending on your country of origin. Airline staff may have incomplete understanding and in our case take a booking for a flight only to discover 2 days before departure they do not fly animals to the UK. Willie is a young dog but even so, 6 months out of his life is still a very long time. In these uncertain economic times if you are an ex-pat and don’t have a PETS passport give it some thought, because you just never know….