No longer dogged by quarantine laws
PIT bull terriers and Japanese tosas will still not get Australian visas, but for almost all other breeds a recent radical change of heart by the Quarantine Department Down Under will be excellent news.
Instead of languishing in kennels or catteries for nine months, dogs and cats going to Australia from Hong Kong will now only have to spend 30 days in isolation - more of a rest for their owners than the terrible wrench and expense of the past.
According to Lindsey Ward, who runs Export-a-pet, the new laws have been important for some Cathay Pacific staff, who have decided to go home under the airline's home-basing policy, after learning they could easily bring their pets with them.
''It came as quite a shock,'' Lindsey told us. ''We had been expecting a reduction to four months, but we never expected this.
''This is great news,'' said RSPCA executive director Tom Creighton last night.
''A lot of Australians who have to return home are often distraught at the idea of leaving their pets - but don't want to leave them in quarantine for months on end.
''We've had a lot of people surrendering their animals at the RSPCA - but we can't rehouse them all, especially when they're older pets, so sometimes we have had to put them down.'' The rules were changed after Hong Kong was officially made a no-rabies zone, with no reported cases for the past seven years.
Anna McLaughlin at the Discovery Bay Veterinary Clinic (tel 987-9003) called us last night as soon as she heard we were making inquiries about the quarantine laws.
''We've got two little black and white puppies that have been washed down by the storm waters this week. We have to send them to the RSPCA by Friday if no one can give them a home.'' She said the mongrel pups were about eight weeks old, sisters, ''and very intelligent''.
''It would be great to hear from an Australian family - or anyone else - who's now looking for a dog because of the change in quarantine laws.''