British Veterinary Association praises NI vets for being strong and supportive ahead of Brexit
British Veterinary Association (BVA) President Daniella Dos Santos tonight (Tuesday 26 November) championed the vital work of vets in Northern Ireland and praised the profession for getting as prepared as possible for the challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit.
BVA is particularly concerned about how a no-deal Brexit could impact on Northern Ireland’s vets, as it would lead to a significant rise in demand for veterinary certification of animals and animal products for export over the land border and into the EU. A no-deal scenario would also mean that people would have to prepare at least four months ahead if they want to travel to the EU with their pets, placing new demands on small animal vets to fulfil requirements for vaccination and rabies testing.
Addressing over 80 guests at the dinner in Stormont, including MLAs, Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey, key representatives from animal health and welfare organisations and colleagues from across the veterinary profession, BVA’s President said:
“We know that a lot is being to prepare for, communicate and mitigate against the challenges that a no-deal scenario could present.
“An example of this was the recent DAERA certification training days, which nearly 150 vets attended to get the qualifications needed to certify animal products in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The turn-out across two days included small animal vets, recently retired vets and vets on maternity leave, all wanting to do their bit to get the sector as primed and ready as possible for the precited increase in demand for certification services if we do leave without a deal. I see each and every vet who came along as a credit to the workforce and a sterling supporter of Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry.”
Ms Dos Santos also used the event to call for support for BVA’s new manifesto for animals, vets, and public health, which sets out ten pledges for political parties to sign up to ahead of the General Election, including a call to reject a no-deal Brexit.
She said: “Our pledges range from species-specific improvements, such as a ban on keeping primates as pets, to changes in how legislation is developed and enacted, such as a commitment to uphold animal welfare standards in future trade deals and agricultural policy. We want to see the principle of animal sentience finally pushed over the line and into law, and we want to see animal welfare on the national curriculum, to give future generations an early start in understanding what it means to care for animals and ensure they lead a happy, healthy life. Where pledges span devolved policy, we will be engaging with DAERA in lieu of a minister to ensure that they are implemented in Northern Ireland.”
Later in the speech, Ms Dos Santos praised the cross-sector work underway in Northern Ireland both to research and protect against diseases, and to tackle the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in both animal and human health. Marking the end of World Antibiotic Awareness Week, she said:
“It has been heartening to see the Northern Ireland Chief Medical Officer and Chief Veterinary Officer joining forces to help tackle the threat of antimicrobial resistance at both practice and policy level and jointly launch the Northern Ireland five-year action plan at the Balmoral Show this year… I applaud everyone who has worked hard to reduce the risk of AMR and protect our antibiotics for future generations.”
Turning to pet welfare, Ms Dos Santos asked for guests to support BVA’s manifesto call for legislation to be strengthened against illegal imports of puppies for sale. She said: “As a nation of animal lovers, it is simply unacceptable that criminals are still getting away with this cruel and exploitative trade…
“BVA is really proud to have developed flowcharts that advise our members of the simple steps to spot and report suspected illegal importing of puppies; stay tuned for the Northern Ireland version that launches soon.”
The BVA President ended her speech by thanking BVA Northern Ireland Branch for its hard work in the past year, calling Branch officers a ‘diverse dream team championing and advocating for the Northern Ireland veterinary community’.