UK pug dogged by Brexit fears chases Belgian citizenship
Pippa, a British pedigree pug who splits her time between Brussels and Britain, is taking Belgian 'citizenship' amid fears of a looming no-deal Brexit.
The four-year-old pooch is one of the quarter of a million pets that cross from the UK to the EU every year and regularly visits friends and family in Britain and Ireland.
Thanks to the EU's pet passport scheme - which covers cats, dogs and ferrets - she is spared the six-month quarantine that used to be common practice when travelling to Europe.
Her British-issued passport, which is a certificate of good health and vaccinations in a blue book with a room for a photo, will not be recognised if Brexit negotiations collapse.
Pippa's owner Nick Petre (38) has decided to pay a vet €100 for a Belgian pet passport, effectively giving her dual citizenship, in what is believed to be a first for both Belgium and for pugs.
"Pippa's UK passport will be null and void if we crash out of the EU," said Nick, who works at the European Parliament and has lived in Brussels since 2006. "With talks still blocked on some major issues I thought it made sense to take precautions. Who knows where this could lead?"
The Belgian pet passport may not be recognised in Britain after a no-deal Brexit but Nick hopes British officials will still accept her UK papers.
Pippa, who cost more than €1,100, would still be able to travel to Ireland thanks to EU freedom of pet movement.
British and EU negotiators have not begun talks on whether the passport will survive or what arrangement could succeed it. Detailed discussions are not expected until the transition period, which should begin after March29 next year.
EU officials are drawing up emergency Brexit plans for British cats, dogs and ferrets after Jean-Claude Juncker took a personal interest in how "no deal" could damage the EU's pet passport scheme.
"We are not only for the free movement of people but for the free movement of pets," a commission spokeswoman said.
A UK government source said it wanted pet owners to be able to travel to and from the EU s with "the of minimum of inconvenience".