Airline at Gatwick Airport fined for flying dogs at risk of rabies

Royal Air Maroc pleaded guilty to five charges
Royal Air Maroc pleaded guilty to five charges

An airline has been fined £50,000 after illegally flying dogs at risk of rabies into Gatwick Airport.

Royal Air Maroc pleaded guilty to five charges at Brighton Magistrates Court following an investigation by West Sussex Trading Standards.

On September 22, 2017, a dog landed in Gatwick on a flight from Casablanca Airport, Morocco.

When the animal arrived, checks showed that no blood test had been given to make sure the rabies vaccination had worked.

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It had also received no tape worm treatment before returning to the UK.

On January 3, 2018 the airline then transported a dog within the cabin of the aircraft to Gatwick Airport.

When the Animal Reception Centre at the airport reviewed the pet’s travel documentation it showed that the correct checks had once again not taken place.

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Peter Aston, Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “The United Kingdom has been rabies free for a considerable amount of time thanks in part to the very strict rabies controls in place.

“Not only did this airline import animals illegally from Morocco, a high risk country for rabies, it continued to flout regulations and ignore our warnings. I hope this sentence acts as a deterrent to other airlines and demonstrates the importance of complying with regulations.”

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Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “Bringing animals at risk of rabies into the country is an incredibly serious offence.

“If you are travelling with pets, I urge you to make sure they are properly vaccinated and have had the all the necessary checks.”

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Royal Air Maroc was fined £20,000 in relation to the landing of September 22, 2017. It was also ordered to pay full costs of £1,776.99 to West Sussex County Council for bringing the matter before the courts.

The airline was then fined £30,000 regarding the landing in January 3, 2018. Full costs of £491 were once again awarded to the county council and the company was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120.

One of the dogs was exported to Morocco, while the other was picked up by its owner after being quarantined.

Public Health England classifies Morocco as high risk for rabies in wild and companion animals.

Blood tests must take place after the rabies vaccination has been given to animals to ensure the required antibodies are present to protect it.

You can report concerns about illegally imported animals by contacting Trading Standards on 03454 040506 or online at www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport

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