Sometimes, things just go wrong. There’s no-one to blame, there’s nothing that can be done to fix it, you just have to deal with the fall-out.
In our case, the thing that went wrong was a tiny detail of a small aspect of Mr Pup’s import documentation. It turns out that he was given the wrong type of tick treatment before he left Denmark. As a result, he needs to be re-treated, then re-tested, and must serve an extra 21 days’ quarantine to ensure he wasn’t infected beforehand.
The cost of all this will be A$ 4,000. That’s about £2,200 or DKK 21,000, depending on which savings account we take it from. The greater cost, however, was two heartbroken children and a hole in the middle of our family life for a lot longer than we anticipated.
Mr Pup is not a tough dog, he’s not a working dog, and it’s fair to say he wouldn’t know hardship if it sniffed his bottom. So the thought of him in solitary confinement for more than a month hurts me more than any misfortune you could throw at me personally. He won’t understand, and he will likely be very scared right now. The only thing we can do is resolve to make his homecoming spectacular and his walks for the rest of the year lengthy and fun.
I don’t want to gripe about the decision of the Department of Agriculture, but I do want to explain what happened so that perhaps I can prevent another family from going through this anguish.
You can read the full extent of the process we went through with Mr Pup in a previous post and, given its complexity, it’s probably worth us taking a moment to congratulate ourselves on how much we got right. But for the full regulations, you should visit the Department of Agriculture’s website.
The problem regulation for us, is step 15 of 19, which states: ‘A government approved veterinarian must treat the dog with a product that kills ticks and fleas on contact at least 21 days before blood collection for Ehrlichia canis.’
The most important wording in that sentence is ‘on contact’. Apparently, the tick treatment our Danish vet used only kills ticks if they actually bite the dog. So, no matter that he was treated, no matter that he subsequently tested negative for the tick-borne disease Ehrlichia canis, and no matter that he was re-treated immediately before flying to Australia. It was the wrong sort of tick treatment and that’s that.
According to the vet at the Eastern Creek quarantine facility near Sydney, this represents a “major non-compliance”. When asked if there was any way around the problem, he said: “Yes, you can export him back where he came from.”
My wife is convinced that the wording of the regulations and the way they are enforced represents a fairly deliberate attempt to trip people up and squeeze many more thousands of dollars from unsuspecting pet owners. I don’t subscribe to that view, but I do think the regulations, as written, give scant attention to something that now appears to be so important and that they would benefit from the addition of a recommended brand of tick treatment, or at least the caveat that ‘it is not sufficient to use a tick treatment that relies on the tick actually biting the dog to be effective´.
This experience does another thing too, it increases our nervousness about the container-load of household goods currently steaming its way south. We were meticulous in our selection, cleaning and packaging of all our things, but did we follow every regulation to the letter? Can we guarantee that our removals company didn’t load something that shouldn’t be coming to Australia? Are we absolutely certain that nothing in that container can lead to a further fine and further delays? No.
We are hopeful that there won’t be any problems, confident that we did all the right things, but certainty seems hard to come by at the moment, and Mr Pup will vouch for that the hard way.
So, I implore you, if you are bringing your pet to Australia, please double, triple and quadruple-check the regulations. Take them with you to your vet and talk through what every word of those regulations means. Not only might you save yourself thousands of dollars that may be essential to funding your settlement here, you might also save yourself and your pet several additional weeks of stress and anguish.