Iceland is a popular destination for travelers around the world: From 2010 to 2015, tourism grew from 488,000 annual visitors to more than 1.2 million. And it’s no surprise why — Iceland’s stunning landscapes including volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, mud baths, hot springs and more attract adventure-seekers and spa-lovers alike. But, with more tourism comes more problems for the small nation.
One issue that has sadly bubbled to the surface in Iceland is travelers attempting to smuggle their pets into the country. On April 24, the Iceland Monitor reported that police in Höfn, South East Iceland, received a tip that a Swiss woman arrived in Norröna on a ferry with her cat in tow.
However, under Icelandic law, pets entering the country can only pass through Keflavík International Airport and must be traveling with the proper paperwork. The pet must be at least 5 months old and be quarantined for a predetermined amount of time.
But because this smuggled furry traveler was not properly documented, Iceland police had no choice but to take the animal to an area veterinarian and have it put down.
This is not the first time police have had to make this difficult decision. In 2003, Iceland Magazine reported, police in North Iceland became aware of a French couple who had also arrived in Iceland on the ferry, allegedly also hiding their cat in an RV as well. In that case the cat was eventually put down and the couple was charged for smuggling the animal into the country.
While the outcome seems unimaginable, police acted to protect the delicate ecosystem that still exists in iceland. The reason for the strict animal laws, Iceland Magazine reported, is that many animal diseases, including rabies, have never been detected in Iceland. An un-declared kitten, puppy, or farm animal could easily introduce a new disease that has never been seen in the animal population before and devastate different animal populations.
Traveling with your beloved pet is ideal for many, however, across the globe laws on transporting animals in planes, boats, and vehicles varies widely. In the United States, for example, the requirements are different for different animals. Cats traveling into the U.S. from foreign countries require little documentation, while dogs may require extensive paperwork before being allowed to set foot, or paw, into the country. Check with your airline, country of origin and destination before ever taking your pet along for your journey.