MAST Files Complaints Against Tourists’ Dog Imports to Iceland

traditional farm iceland

The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) has reported three cases of illegal dog importation by tourists in aeroplane passenger cabins to the police. A previously undetected parasite was found in one of the dogs during a health inspection.

A previously undetected parasite

As noted on its website, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) has filed three complaints with the police regarding the illegal importation of dogs.

These incidents involve three separate cases where tourists contravened animal importation laws by bringing their dogs into the country in the passenger cabins of aeroplanes. The transportation of the dogs into the country was not discovered until MAST received a notification from authorities at the Keflavík International Airport as the travellers checked in for their flights out of the country after a few days’ stay with their dogs.

MAST did not permit departure until the dogs had undergone a health inspection and sampling at the owners’ expense. In one of the cases, a parasite not previously detected in the country was identified. According to MAST, the dog had no contact with other animals during its stay in the country, and due to the cold weather conditions, MAST believes it is unlikely that any worms/eggs would have survived if the owner had not cleaned up after the dog.

“Under the laws governing the importation of animals, it is forbidden to bring any kind of animals and their genetic material into the country. The reason for this ban is to protect the existing animals in the country as well as people from infectious diseases and parasites that may be introduced with the importation of animals. Exemptions from this ban are only permitted under strict conditions and with a special permit from the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority. The laws state that a monetary fine will be imposed for violations of these provisions.”

Violations taken seriously

As noted on its website, MAST takes the illegal importation of animals very seriously, given the strict regulations in place due to the risk of introducing animal diseases, and has referred these cases to the police.

The aim of a recent amendment to the regulation on the importation of dogs and cats – which now prohibits the transportation of those animals in the passenger cabin of aeroplanes – is to prevent such illegal imports of animals where passengers could previously transport their pets undetected on flights to Iceland and through Keflavík International Airport.

Deep North Episode 21: A New Leash on Life

icelandic sheepdog

We’re on our way to meet a national pageant winner, who after a thorough examination by a qualified judge was selected as the most beautiful in all the land. The pageant winner is perhaps not quite what you would expect, however. Firstly, he’s male. Secondly, he’s three years old. Thirdly, he’s covered in a thick coat of luxurious fur. His name is Einir, and he’s an Icelandic sheepdog.

Read the full story here.

Majority of Dogs in Reykjavík Unregistered

iceland dogs

Animal Services of Reykjavík report of the estimated 10,000 dogs in the city, only 2,500 owners pay the legal registration fee.

In a statement to RÚV, Þorkell Hreiðarsson, director of Animal Services, said: “We lowered the fee by about half two years ago, when Animal Services of Reykjavík City was founded.” Because animal services in Reykjavík are entirely funded by animal registration fees, Þorkell claims the unwillingness to pay is particularly problematic.

In total, Animal Services is funded with some 30 million ISK [$214,000; €200,000]. Services provided include running a kennel for stray dogs and responding to residential noise complaints.

“Ideally, the more people who pay the fees, the more these same fees will decrease,” Þorkell continued.

Registration fees for dogs in Iceland total ISK 15,700 [$112; €105] at the time of writing. Þorkell also believes that many dog owners in Reykjavík may avoid paying their registration fee because the process was once complicated and involved unnecessary paperwork. Now, according to Þorkell, dogs can be registered at the online portal, where Icelandic residents already take care of many bureaucratic tasks. Hopefully, the new convenience will encourage more and more dog owners to pay into the system.

Dog owners in Reykjavík who attend behaviour classes with their animal are also eligible to receive a discount on their registration.

There are, of course, those who simply don’t want to pay. Regarding this unwillingness, Þorkell points out the unfairness of the situation. Because animal services in the city are intended for the entire community, those who pay are, in effect, subsidising the unwilling.

Buster Takes Over from Tindur

iceland police

A new drug dog, Buster, will begin his duties in the Westfjords police force. The dog he will be replacing, named Tindur, will be retiring next year.

Steinar Gunnarsson, a police officer in the Westfjords, was responsible for training Buster and handing him over to his new supervisors.

Pictured are Tindur and Buster with their supervisors, Þór Guðmundsson and Marín Elvarsdóttir.

According to the announcement, Tindur has served with Westfjords police for many years, but is now in his senior years.

In the announcement on Facebook, Westfjords police stated: “We expect a lot from Buster and believe that he will be just as good as Tindur.”

Former Icelandic President’s Dog Successfully Cloned

A clone of former Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson’s dog Sámur has been born and is doing well, RÚV reports. Last fall, Former First Lady Dorrit Moussaieff announced her intention to clone Sámur, the couple’s dog whose presence became a constant at the Icelandic presidential residence Bessastaðir during Ólafur Rangar’s term. The newborn pup has been named Samson.

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson and Sámur at Bessastaðir.

Sámur passed away earlier this year, but not before Ólafur Ragnar and Dorrit had sent samples from their beloved furry friend to ViaGen Pets, a company in Texas which specialises in cloning cats and dogs. Ólafur and Dorrit both announced the birth of a healthy pup on social media yesterday.

In an interview last October, Ólafur Ragnar discussed the possibility of cloning Sámur more than once. “You can arrange with the company to store the sample for years for a relatively small fee. I’ve told my grandchildren that when they’ve established a home and had their own children, they can order their own Sámur from Texas.”



Icelandic Sheepdog Celebrated Today

Icelandic Sheepdog.


The fourth annual Icelandic Sheepdog Day will be celebrated across Iceland today, RÚV reports. The goal of the yearly event is to increase the breed’s visibility. The Icelandic sheepdog neared extinction in the late 20th century, but was largely saved by the work of Englishman Mark Watson, who took several dogs to England in order to preserve the breed.

The Icelandic Sheepdog breed originates from the dogs brought to Iceland by the Vikings. It is a similar breed to the Norwegian Buhund, the Shetland Sheepdog, and the Welsh Corgi. In Iceland, the dogs are commonly used to herd sheep, as well as being kept as household pets, and are known for their hardiness and resourcefulness.

A presentation of the breed will take place in Reykjavík today at the Árbær Open Air Museum at 2.00pm. Stefanía Sigurðardóttir, chairperson of the Department of the Icelandic Sheepdog, will tell the story of the national breed, as well as describing its varied colouring and its characteristics.

Icelandic Sheepdog Day is celebrated on Mark Watson’s birthday, which this year marks 113 years since his birth. The Icelandic Dog Breeder Association (HRFÍ), founded partly in order to preserve the breed, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year as well. Readers can find more information on Mark Watson’s actions and life on Hundalíf Hundaskóli’s website.