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Revealed: How dog passport prices vary by 200% at Camden and Haringey vets

PUBLISHED: 12:44 15 February 2017 | UPDATED: 13:06 15 February 2017

All dogs need a passport to travel out of the UK

All dogs need a passport to travel out of the UK

PA Archive/PA Images

A Ham&High investigation has revealed huge variations in the price of issuing dog passports at vets in Camden and Haringey.

We found that charges at veterinary practices in Hampstead, Highgate, Crouch End and Muswell Hill differed by more than 200 per cent depending on the deal offered.

We called local vets and asked for the price of a passport for a labradoodle puppy that was already micro-chipped and vaccinated for rabies.

The cheapest quote we were given was £48 at Highgate Vet and Hills Veterinary Surgery in Crouch End, and the most expensive was £150 at Village Vet in Hampstead.

Village Vet was quick to clarify its rate was for an “all-inclusive service” including rabies vaccination and a 30 minute full dog health check, when contacted by the Ham&High.

But shocked dog owners have called for prices to be regulated and more transparency for the customer.

Julie Gishen and dog Mr. Picture: Polly HancockJulie Gishen and dog Mr. Picture: Polly Hancock

Julie Gishen, 41, of Willow Road, Hampstead, said: “I didn’t even know there was a range of prices, that’s surprised me - and no, it’s not fair.

“It should be regulated, like an MOT.”

A dog passport has been essential to take a pet away on holiday since the century-old quarantine law was abandoned in 2000.

The work involved in issuing the standard document should not vary significantly from vet to vet as long as the dog is already micro-chipped and vaccinated against rabies.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons says vets practices are within their rights to set their own pricing structures, like any other business.

Jennie Shepherd and Maudie. Picture: Polly HancockJennie Shepherd and Maudie. Picture: Polly Hancock

A spokesman said: “We are not able to regulate pricing in veterinary practices as to do so would be anti-competitive and, like any other business, prices in different practices may vary depending on the services offered and market forces.

“Clients may wish to shop around to find a veterinary practice they like and which is within any budget they may have.”

But dog owners the Ham&High interviewed on Hampstead Heath were surprised at the lottery in prices.

Jennie Shepherd, 46, of Cliffton Hill, St John’s Wood, who was walking her dog Maudie, said: “I have to say when I looked into it they [dog passports] were pricey.

“There should be a set price. It’s wrong. It should be standardised.”

Victoria Twining and Luna. Picture: Polly HancockVictoria Twining and Luna. Picture: Polly Hancock

Not all were critical, with some saying they would pay a premium for the convenience of visiting their local vet.

Victoria Twining, 43, of Belsize Park, out walking her dog Luna, said: “We use it [the passport] all the time because we travel to France a lot. I don’t actually find them expensive.

“I think people are so used to people charging whatever they want to these days. They’ll pay for what’s convenient at the local vet that’s near to them.”

But she said an industry-wide “recommended price” should be displayed so customers are informed if they are paying over the odds for not shopping around.

Village Vet Hampstead said it offers a comprehensive service which reflects the extra cost.

David Balogh and Georgie. Picture: Polly HancockDavid Balogh and Georgie. Picture: Polly Hancock

Farooq Bhatti, group marketing strategist, said: “Our price of £150 for your puppy is an all-inclusive one that includes rabies vaccination, pet passport and a full health check consultation for 30 minutes.

“Our vets take the time to have a proper consult with the owner, which means addressing any questions that may be specific to the location that they are travelling to or any health queries in general.

“We also inspect your pets’ microchip to make sure it is readable and in working order.

“The price just for the pet passport is £65.75. Nevertheless it is not an option that any puppy owner would opt for as it is quite rare for someone to simply get a rabies vaccination, a requisite for a pet passport, without having to get a pet passport.

“In our experience, we don’t generally encounter puppy owners who just want a pet passport.”

Emma Tudge with Baxter and Sprocket. Picture: Polly HancockEmma Tudge with Baxter and Sprocket. Picture: Polly Hancock

Gudrun Ravetz, president of the British Veterinary Association, said pet passports are commonly issued as part of a “bundle of procedures”, including rabies vaccinations, and this can affect pricing.

“Each veterinary practice will determine its own prices and packages, taking into account popularity of services and practice overheads like rent, administration and staff costs,” she said.

“When only comparing head line prices it is not always obvious what is included and so we would encourage pet owners to engage with their veterinary practice to understand all that is being offered.”

WHAT IS A DOG PASSPORT?

A dog passport is part of the government Pet Travel Scheme and is essential if you want to take your pet (cats, dogs and ferrets require them) abroad with you.

Jill Ingram and dog Ella. Picture: Polly HancockJill Ingram and dog Ella. Picture: Polly Hancock

It includes a record of any treatments your dog has had, as well as:

* Details of ownership

* Description of pet

* Vaccination against rabies

* Rabies blood test (if required)

* Canine tapeworm treatment (if required)

Why does your dog need one?

It’s mostly a safety precaution. The main purpose of the scheme is to keep the UK and your pet free from rabies and other foreign diseases they may catch whilst you’re away. The pet passports scheme was introduced in 2000 followed the ditching of the century-old quarantine law.

How long do they last for?

It will last for the lifetime of the pet as long as the rabies vaccination is kept up to date.

Who can issue dog passports?

Most vets are able to issue them and if yours doesn’t, you should be able to ask them for the nearest veterinary clinic that does. You can also contact the animal transport department of the Animal and Plant Health Agency on 03000 200 301.

YOUR VIEWS

We asked dog walkers on Hampstead Heath what they thought about the variation in pet passport prices?

DAVID BALOGH, 25, of Barnsbury Park, out with Georgie, a dog he looks after, said: “I think it depends on the area. If you’re in Greater London it will be cheaper but if you’re somewhere around here then they’ll charge more - and if people are paying £150 for it, they’ll never change the price. But the big gap surprises me, I don’t know what the reason for that is.”

JENNIE SHEPHERD, 46, of Cliffton Hill, St John’s Wood, with dog Maudie, said: “I did selectively choose my vet on their skill base and what they offer at the practice. But when it comes to something like a passport that would make me think. If it was an operation or my dog’s general meds, no, I wouldn’t shop around. But when it comes to a passport or something that doesn’t relate to her health then I would.”

EMMA TUDGE, 36, of Mansfield Road, Gospel Oak, with her two dogs Baxter and Sprocket, said: “Once the vet knows the dog it’s a bit trickier to move. You feel like you’ll have to give the back story again without them knowing the full history.”

VICTORIA TWINING, 43, of Belsize Park, with her dog Luna, said: “I’m not going to lie, I like the convenience of my vet and they have all the dog’s history – it’s just very straight forward. But if someone told me in that in Kentish Town it’s £40 against £140 then, yes, I’m not an idiot, I will drive to Kentish Town.”

JILL INGRAM, 50, of Southampton Road in Kentish Town, out with her dog Ella, said: “I think it’s a free market and that’s fair and it’s down to the consumer to seek out what’s best.”

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