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Britain Gives Pets the Royal Welcome

In December, the British government announced that dogs and cats may travel to the United Kingdom from the United States and Canada without having to undergo a six-month quarantine. The long-standing restriction was intended to safeguard the country from rabies. But after years of criticism from pet-owning American diplomats, expats, servicemen, animal rights organizations, and actors on location—including Elizabeth Taylor, who once skirted the law by renting a yacht moored on the Thames so her beloved dogs never set paw on British soil—Britain has finally lifted it.

"We were not prepared to take such a significant step until we were sure that there would be no increase in the risks of importing rabies," said Eliot Morley, Britain's Animal Health Minister. Introduced three years ago, the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) originally covered only Western European travelers and their pets; a year later, 28 other countries and territories were added. Because Hawaii is rabies-free, it actually qualified for PETS in January 2002.

To learn more about the stringent guidelines you'll need to follow to qualify your pet for entry to the U.K. (including having a veterinarian implant a microchip for identification purposes), consult the department's Web site (www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine) or call the PETS help line (44-870/241-1710).

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