The Federal Council of Switzerland has announced that a growing number of issues have recently emerged regarding cross-border travel with pet animals.
In a statement issued on March 10, the Federal Council of Switzerland has also stated that the Federal Office of Food Safety and Veterinary (FSVO) will assist with information regarding the procedures for crossing the border with animals on their website while warning against illegal imports of animals, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“To protect pets and inform owners, the FSVO provides assistance on its website on traveling with pets and importing animals, plants, and foods. The FSVO also warns against spontaneously purchasing animals abroad. They often come from cruel breeding environments or illegal dog trading. Any journey with or purchase of a pet must be well planned, well prepared, and carefully checked,” the statement reads.
According to FSVO, animals that possess invalid and forged travel documents cannot enter Switzerland. At the same time, if this illegal import happens, it can result in fines or prosecution.
Demand for pets increased most during the pandemic, and at the same time, the number of animal imports expanded.
Over the past two years, imports of dogs increased by a quarter from around 28,000 in 2019 to approximately 35,000 during 2021.
Meanwhile, import permits for dogs coming from countries with a high risk of rabies during the last year have doubled from about 1,000 to 2,000.
“Animal welfare cases at the border have risen almost fourfold, from 654 in 2020 to 2,560 in 2021 as the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS) announced today,” the statement pointed out in this regard.
In addition, the FOCBS Competence Center for Pets registered a record number of animals that were not declared correctly when crossing the border and were forced to customs clearance retroactively.
Meanwhile, retroactive customs clearance of animals increased during 2021 to 4,903 from only 280 in 2019, which would mean that this is a 17-fold increase within three years.
Criminal proceedings were also instituted in more than two-thirds of subsequent declaration cases, and total fines increased more than sixfold from CHF 30,000 in 2019 to CHF 200,000 over the previous year.
Moreover, in 2021 The FSVO Border Veterinary Service was forced to take action in the cases of more than 300 animals in Zurich and Geneva airports.