In order to transport rescue dogs we are required to have The Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) which is an online system that makes it easier for importers and exporters to provide health certification and track consignments of animals. It is an incredibly efficient system, which means that we must be efficient in our administration and also ensure that our dogs fully comply. Every dog has to be entered onto the TRACES database so our vet has had some work to do! We are given an exact route to take and given a document in each language of each country we pass through. These countries are Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, France and England. We were stopped in Belgium on our last trip by the Police, we welcomed this. We showed him all of our documentation, he checked the conditions that the dogs were in. We gave him a little dog to cuddle and told him all about Street Hearts BG, he smiled for a picture and went away happy, after showing us pictures of his dogs and sharing his stories about them.
We are unable to rehome dogs now that are not neutered which is obviously a good thing, this is entered on the database. All dogs also have to be fully vaccinated including rabies. To add to this we also blood test our dogs for tick borne diseases and heartworm, this is not compulsory but we want to ensure our dogs are fit and well before going onto their forever homes. We have also introduced a test for Giardia which is very common in puppies, it is an infection which is treated with a course of antibiotics and worming medication. So all in all you can imagine the paperwork for 70 dogs!
We have had one teething problem in that our GPS tracker was not working, this is also required as we are legally obliged to send a full itinerary of where we have been, where we have stopped etc. This is now sorted, it was an issue with SIM card by the company in England sending the wrong one, we need a Europe wide one but they sent us a UK one! Anthony has bagged us 6 months free data usage to make up for their mistake. So from now on anyone that adopts a dog from us can track our progress across Europe to his or her home or collection point. This is a nice touch we think and adds to the excitement of people getting their new family member.
It is absolutely wonderful being able to transport our own dogs, the look of happiness when we open the van doors when we stop is magical. Their little faces look at us as if to say “yay it’s you, everything is ok!” It also helps us with any teething problems of lead training in strange places, toilet training and just exposing them to new sights and smells. The first couple of hours usually have the dogs vomiting and pooping so we stop in Bulgaria and sort that out. From then on it is remarkable how clean the dogs are. We probably stop more than we need to but we really want to promote toilet training and also they are our precious rescues so we want them to be happy and comfortable.
The welcome we had at Dogs 4 Rescue in Manchester was amazing, cooked food, a warm bed and shower were much appreciated. The first trip we arrived late evening, Emma and Lou were very giddy and ready to hear all of our stories. The dedication and commitment this team have is truly inspiring. We have stolen quite a few ideas from them and have realised that our play area for our dogs is not stimulating enough so we are going to make some low cost alterations including a big mound of earth! The dogs loved it and bounded up and down there all day long. Again it was great to be part of the transition for the dogs, Bernie was a little nervous but came round with us being there so when we left he was more at ease. We are forever grateful to D4R for finding amazing homes for our dogs, without them we would be in a terrible pickle. The last thing we want to do is hoard dogs, they all need their own homes and families. It is also great to sit and talk to them about issues they also have and bounce ideas around. We are very proud that they want to work with us.
We are a little concerned how Brexit might possibly affect being able to transport the dogs in to the UK, we’ll just have to see. . .
Another silly booboo that Emma made was forgetting to book the channel tunnel crossing before we left Bulgaria this time! We left on the Saturday morning and wanted a Sunday night crossing….the animal section for booking is not open on a weekend! So we were stuck in France for several hours waiting for the offices to open at 9am UK time on Monday morning. You can imagine how lovely that was spending longer than necessary sat in the van!
It is all a learning curve and Emma has now resigned herself to the fact that admin is more important than training dogs and being outside! This is one aspect of running a dog shelter that she does not enjoy.