Urgently increase Post Entry Quarantine pet spaces !

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Our goal is to increase the number of spaces made available for pets in PEQ

Currently, the limit on PEQ spaces is causing a detrimental effect on Australians getting their pets home. Flying Pets to Australia is a community made up of fellow Australians who are desperately trying to get their pets back into Australia.

Costing the Australian public $379 million to build, the PEQ facility in Mickleham, VIC is a state-of-the-art facility spanning 144 hectares and is more than four times the size of its former facility at Eastern Creek in Sydney, NSW. Despite this, it is apparently ill-equipped to handle the COVID19 crisis!

An assertion backed up by PEQs own official statements which include; “A reduction in staff due to physical distancing requirements” - stated on the 17th of April, 2020. 

Additionally, the Department of Agriculture telling NCA Newswire that “Due to current operational demands, the PEQ facility is close to capacity and has a limited number of places available for dogs and cats over the next two months”. - 1st of August, 2020. Now, 10 months since the announcement, there is still no actionable plan in place to more effectively respond to these capacity constraints. It seems there should be a concerted effort to ensure accommodation of the volume of quarantine booking requests. 

It is only the beginning of the year and quite alarmingly, PEQ is already booked up until the end of May, 2021. At this rate, the entirety of 2021 will be booked up within the next two to three months. Clearly this is not a sustainable trajectory!

PEQ’s inability to offer bookings for anything less than nearly six months in advance is causing considerable heartache and distress for pet owners across the world. Not only is the impact of PEQ’s restrictions causing this heightened emotional distress for pet owners and pets in an already stressful process, it is also causing financial hardship with pet owners facing difficult decisions; such as potential long term boarding fees at their origin location, if they already have flights booked for their own journey back to Australia, or flight change fees to accommodate their pet’s delayed quarantine booking.   

It is also rather questionable that despite PEQ charging for a 12 month import permit costing $480 in order to book a space, these are not useable for around the first 6 months due to the current wait time.

We have witnessed first-hand the mental anguish that these extended delays are causing our community as I am sure thousands of other pet owners are also experiencing as they find a way to get their pets home.

As you may already be aware, this year with covid lockdown, there has been an unprecedented demand for owning a pet. We rely on our pets for the invaluable emotional support they provide us. In these uncertain times, more than ever, we need our pets with us to help cope with isolation, fear, depression, loss and stress.

It is extremely important that you are aware of the impact caused by limiting spaces at PEQ such as:

- Pet owners are faced with no other choice but to leave their pets behind, sometimes in expensive boarding facilities for up to six months. We have overseas stranded Aussies that cannot afford boarding for half the year, with the Australian government already financially crippling them with expensive flights due to the imposed flight caps, resulting in repeated flight cancellations or business class costed flights, and hotel quarantine charged on top of the already existing costs of international moving and pet shipping. Not knowing anyone who can take care of their pets, in many cases, people have had to resort to asking for pet foster care from total strangers on the internet.

- Families separated as a spouse / parent, stays behind to look after the family pets, until the pets are able to fly, while the partner and kids return to Australia. This further jeopardised reuniting families with current reduced flight cap numbers.

- The upset and distress caused to young children, not understanding why they are separated from their furry best friend and / or parent.

- Due to the uncertainty regarding PEQ places, it has sadly also caused people to put their move back to Australia on hold, delay importing their pets from a non-approved country, or consider coming via New Zealand as an alternative, therefore causing more financial burden due to requiring 90 days additional boarding in New Zealand.

- There is also the impact in relation to the welfare of pets to consider, who now are facing being separated from owners for up to six months. The amount of noticeable stress pets endure in PEQ for 10 days, fretting for their owners; this alone, should tell you that this is not at all acceptable.

- It is also important to consider the security implications of pets boarding separately from their owners. Indeed, we have observed a worrying trend of pets being stolen from secure facilities while waiting to fly.

We urge you to: 

 - You treat this as a matter of great urgency and take immediate action by making more spaces available, returning PEQ to operating at full capacity.

- You return PEQ staffing back to normal levels. Introducing COVID19 safety protocol for staff is common practice now, which is not difficult to implement, but requires a little bit of forethought.

- Considering people cannot book outside of six months of their permits, applicants should be refunded for the unused portion or extend their permit by an additional six months. This should also be applied for permits being granted with date of export restrictions.

- If more space is required, build more kennels on the vast amount of land you already have available to you, and/ or consider the possibility of opening an additional quarantine facility.

- Implement a travel permit specific to collection of pets from PEQ, thus granting permission for pet owners or their representatives to travel across a restricted border in order to collect their pets on their appointed date. It’s imperative, given the volatility of state borders currently being experienced and more than likely to continue into the foreseeable future.

- Allow applicants from non-approved countries to book a quarantine space before their pets are moved to an approved country. The reason being the risk of not securing a place after the move and the pet being stuck in boarding in neither the source or destination country.

Our community, as well as numerous other distressed pet owners, have written to you over this matter, with both complaints and offers of help. It is noted that you have made yourself quite accessible to the media, while not providing replies to individuals; establishing this petition is our only option to reach you at this point. 

The bottom line is COVID19 is not going anywhere. PEQ cannot just down tools and wait it out. Even with vaccination this will be ongoing for the next few years. What about the next virus that comes afterwards? It is incredibly selfish and irresponsible, when so many people and pets are heavily relying on the much needed and high quality services PEQ provides. We need PEQ to increase capacity to get more pets home in a timely manner.