Easier ride for Aust greyhounds stirs controversy

Biosecurity officials have been criticised by dog importers for apparently giving Australian greyhound owners an easier ride on proposed new rules for dog and cat imports.

The new rules have been stalled by a jack russell terrier owner who wants easier access for the dogs they regularly fly backwards and forwards between New Zealand and Hawaii.

But other owners have criticised the requirement for dogs coming from Britain and the Irish Republic to undergo a 10 day quarantine, when most Australian dogs will be allowed in without any quarantine at all.

"To give Australia special privileges because of trade relations ... is totally hypocritical," complained Thelma Morrell, of Ohau, near Levin. "Either include them or give the previously exempt countries their status back".

She suggested that MAF use an idea canvassed in August last year, of axing quarantine requirement altogether for "least-risk" countries, and instead require topical treatments for fleas and lice, and an oral treatment, Proban, for ticks.

But MAF responded that while one product, Frontline, had been the specified treatment for external parasites in some of cat and dog import standards, it had been recommended by parasitologists that treatment should not be limited to one product because of the potential for parasites to acquire resistance..

"Unfortunately many sources state that Proban should not be used on greyhounds due to potential toxicity," MAF said. "As a large percentage of dogs imported from Australia are racing greyhounds, MAF cannot require use of this product."

Greyhound Racing New Zealand said that between 600-700 greyhounds were imported from Australia each year, without any requirement for a permit, or post-arrival quarantine.

But Denise Clark, of the Shado-Lans dog quarantine site near Levin, said imported dogs should actually have to be quarantined for 21 days to allow for adequate checks of whether they were carrying ticks.

One of the worst species, the "brown dog tick" (scientifically known as Rhipicephalus sanguineus) could take up to three weeks to feed and swell up from a "pinhead" to a size where it was easily detected. These ticks could spread Lyme disease, which was potentially fatal in humans.

She said 10 days was an unacceptably short period of time for tick inspections, when existing regulations required 30 days quarantine for dogs from many countries: long enough to detect ticks.

A fully blood-fed female brown dog tick can lay up to 5000 eggs, and if the brown dog tick was allowed to establish in New Zealand then there could not only be effects on pets and the human victims of tick bites, but also on the wider economy.

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