_The following is a notice from Department of Agriculture, Water, issued

10th September 2020._

_Read the real life story of those trying to get their pets into

Australia in the Pet Industry News magazine now available to download orread._

Click on the image

I have now received the following letter from Kate McQuestin, who, along

with many other families are unable to get their animals back to Australia

When COVID-19 hit, my family returned home to Australia upon Governmentadvice. Before returning in April, I took all the necessary steps to bring ourbeloved dog Yuki home – paying for vet checks, Government permits and approvedtransport vendors. We believed she would return when we did.

Fast forward to September after trying absolutely everything to desperatelybring her back, Yuki is still stranded in Japan and is deeply missed by mychildren Oliver and Isabella, who ask everyday when she will be home.

Sadly, we’re not the only ones in this situation. I have been contacted bymore than 140 owners of beloved family pets all with the same issue – theycannot land directly into Melbourne where Australia’s only quarantine facilityis located.

Many of these families have lost jobs, been unable to see loved ones formonths and are facing an uncertain future on top of this issue. Livingeveryday with anxiety and stress for months on end as they spend money day-after-day on boarding kennels, hoping one day they will be able to bring theirpets home.

Heartbreakingly, these animals are at a real risk of being given away orworse. For the department to say pets are arriving back to Australia ‘withoutissue’ today is simply not the reality for our families. We really wish itwas.

Thank you for helping highlight our struggles. I hope Minister Littleproudwill see this is a real issue impacting many Australians that needs to beaddressed.

Who does this notice affect?

This notice is for all airlines, freight forwarders, pet transport companiesand importers of cats and dogs to Australia.

What has changed?

Staged restrictions in Victoria are continuing as a result of COVID-19.Despite restrictions, animals have continued to arrive into MelbourneInternational Airport, been collected by the department and taken to the PostEntry Quarantine (PEQ) facility in Mickleham, without issue.

The current COVID-19 pandemic does not change the existing risks posed bydiseases of biosecurity concern to Australia or the need for cats and dogs tomeet the import permit conditions in full. This includes the requirement forcats and dogs to arrive directly into Melbourne International Airport,excluding dogs and cats exported from New Zealand, or dogs holding anassistance dog permit. The department may consider re-exporting or euthanisinganimals that do not fulfill this requirement.

The information below is provided to assist with questions you may have.

Frequently asked questions

Can I still import my cat or dog to Australia?

Yes. Provided you hold a valid import permit and meet all import requirements,cats and dogs can be imported to Australia. The Post-Entry Quarantine facilityis fully operational and is continuing to take booking requests to meet demandfor PEQ animal reservations.

Passenger flights are hard to book. Are there other options to fly my pet

to Australia?

Yes. Animals are frequently being imported on cargo flights. Private/charterflights are also being used to import cats and dogs.

Why does my pet have to arrive into Melbourne International Airport?

Import conditions for bringing cats and dogs to Australia require that theyarrive directly into Melbourne International Airport where they can betransported to Australia’s state-of-the-art Post-Entry Quarantine facilitynearby at Mickleham. International airports in other Australian states do nothave quarantine facilities available to ensure Australia’s strict biosecurityrequirements are maintained.

Why does Australia have one quarantine station?

The Australian Government committed $379.9 million over seven years to buildthe new government-owned and operated quarantine facility that integrated allprevious post-entry quarantine functions in a single site. The single siteapproach has allowed greater efficiencies in operations, consolidated staffexpertise into a single national centre of excellence and has lowered costs togovernment. This means the new buildings and supporting infrastructure areworld’s best practice and able to flexibly adapt to meet changing quarantinerequirements over the next 35 years.

The single quarantine facility also ensures that the thousands of animals thatarrive in Australia each year are as comfortable as possible and that anybiosecurity risks to Australia are appropriately managed.

Why can’t biosecurity conditions for cats and dogs be waived?

Import conditions for cats and dogs are based on scientific analysis andmanage several diseases of biosecurity concern, including rabies. Rabiescauses 60,000 human deaths per year. Australia is currently rabies-free.Introduction of rabies would have a devastating impact, which would beexacerbated if it occurred concurrently with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will I be able to collect my pet from PEQ?

Pet owners and agents continue to be able to collect pets from PEQ at thescheduled time of release. Pet owners and agents are responsible for arrangingthe collection of their animals from PEQ, whether in person or by engaging theservices of a local pet transport company.

Pet owners and agents are advised to check state or territory governmentwebsites for interstate travel movement restrictions prior to collecting theiranimals from PEQ or to engage the services of pet transport companies tocollect or fly their animal’s interstate.

Pet owners and agents are also advised to bring copies of their releaseappointment and appropriate identification as proof that their animals requirecollection from PEQ in case they are stopped at the border or roadblocks inthe greater Melbourne metropolitan area.

Post Entry Quarantine facility (PEQ), Mickleham – Christmas shutdown period

The Post-Entry quarantine facility will remain fully operational and continueto accept booking requests for animal reservations until the final animalarrival date of Friday, 11 December 2020. As in previous year’s, PEQ bookingreservations will be closed over the Christmas period and will recommence onTuesday, 5 January 2021.

Pet owners and agents are advised to make flight arrangements and PEQreservations as soon as their import permit is approved.

Pet owners and agents must secure an airline booking directly into MelbourneAirport and are advised to confirm both the flight arrival date and the PEQreservation date to receive their animal before being exported to Australia.Please email [email protected] if you wish to amend a PEQ reservation dueto flight disruptions.

Further information

Importers are encouraged to check our website regularly or subscribe to ourmailing list for up to date information as import conditions can changewithout notice.

If you require further information, please call 1800 900 090 or email Imports.

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