Starting March 1, the quarantine period for dogs and cats imported to Iceland will be two weeks, as opposed to the previously required four weeks. The Icelandic Kennel Club (HRFÍ), which has long challenged Icelandic quarantine laws – calling them “outdated” and asserting that they have “no objective or scientific basis” – announced the change in quarantine provisions on its website.
In April 2019, at the urging of HRFÍ, a risk-assessment survey was conducted on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture to determine the safety of shorter quarantine times. The investigation concluded that no quarantine was required for dogs and cats imported from Northern Europe and the UK, from where most animals imported to Iceland arrive. According to the survey, disease control in these places is sufficient, making the risk of contamination negligible. The assessment also found that animals from other countries could safely be quarantined for two weeks, instead of the currently required four. The results were then turned over to the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) for further consideration.
Comments from HRFÍ
Finally, last week, chair of HRFÍ Herdís Hallmarsdóttir and alternate chair Guðbjörg Guðmundsóttir attended a meeting with ministers, a lawyer, and a veterinarian to discuss the survey’s results. Following the meeting, HRFÍ was invited to comment on a draft of new quarantine regulations and on new provisions for pet isolation centres. Some of HRFÍ’s comments were taken into account, while others were not.
HRFÍ says the shorter quarantine time is a “major step forward,” noting, among other things, that it will be, “much less stressful for animals to undergo two weeks of isolation than four.”
Fighting for Further Changes
While celebrating the new regulations, however, HRFÍ asserts that there are “still issues that … need to be examined in more detail.” The organisation underscored the risk assessment’s findings that quarantine wasn’t necessary at all for animals coming from regions such as Northern Europe, stating that in cases where quarantine was considered necessary, Icelandic authorities should look for guidance to Australia and New Zealand (where 10 days is the maximum quarantine period for pets). Lastly, HRFÍ says it is “incomprehensible” that owners are not allowed to visit their pets during the quarantine period. HRFI will continue to work for further changes to pet quarantine law.