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People considering buying dogs and cats for Christmas are asked to see if they have access to a veterinarian before buying due to shortages caused by Brexit and Covid.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) urges caution following increased demand for veterinarians due to the increase in pet ownership in lockdown and the new legal requirement for Brexit health checks for food exports to the EU.
The BVA’s comments come just days after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) warned meat and poultry producers that the shortage of veterinarians could affect meat supplies over Christmas.
BVA senior vice president James Russell said the shortage of veterinarians could affect pets too. “If you think we should have a puppy or a kitten or whatever, part of the due diligence is really thinking, how am I supposed to look after this animal for its entire life? one would be thinking, where can I get veterinary care for this animal?
“We would encourage people to check with their local vets to find out: Are they currently accepting clients? What happens outside of opening hours? ”He said. “Questions like that to make sure they can meet their obligation to find veterinary care for these animals when they need it.”
The warnings come amid unprecedented demands on veterinarians following Brexit. All meat and fish exporters to the EU must have food certified for import into Europe by veterinarians or veterinary officers.
Earlier this year, exports of some fish from Scotland were halted because Brexit rules required that every crate of seafood had to be examined by veterinarians and marked as healthy before being taken on a truck to Dover. Russell said the new certification process is taking a long time for veterinarians. “From January 1st to the end of September, our specialist spent 210 years filling out export health certificates,” he said.
More than 3.2 million UK households have brought home a pet since the pandemic began, according to the latest report from the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), a trade organization representing the pet food industry.
Russell said part of the problem is that so many veterinarians who worked in the UK were from the EU, especially those who worked in slaughterhouses. “We see a lot less of those who come into the country. Both a combination of Brexit and Covid, ”he added.
On Wednesday, a senior government official told the Audit Committee that the UK has built up sufficient numbers of veterinarians and veterinary officers to carry out the food and animal controls by offering free training to anyone interested in the job.
Committee chair, Labor MP Meg Hillier, questioned whether working with exporters distracted veterinarians from “trading cats and dogs or sheep” and “all of their private practices”.