London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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City of London 1971

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Port of London]

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26th - a dog which was suspected to be imported was taken from the river at Bow Creek. It was
kept at Battersea Dogs Home until May 11th and then destroyed. July 7th - a dog was landed at
Gatwick Airport and taken to Heathrow. It was returned to Gatwick but did not go on the intended
flight and was taken back to Heathrow in a taxi. A letter was sent to the authorities at Gatwick.
August 16th — a dog died on board a vessel at Chambers Wharf, S.E.16. The carcase was collected
and incinerated. August 17th - a suspected illegally landed dog was taken to the Blue Cross,
Victoria. Dog was re-exported and the owner left the country. August 27th - an illegally landed
dog was discovered at an hotel in London. The dog was re-exported. It was ascertained that it
had been imported at Dover. August 21st — an illegally imported dog was taken to a kennel by its
owner. The dog was eventually re-exported to Germany. October 3rd - a suspected illegally
landed civet cat was discovered in South London. Enquiries were made but the information
obtained was unsatisfactory. November 6th - an attempt was made to smuggle some squirrels
and 2 silver gibbons into the country, concealed in cases carrying parakeets and other birds. 37
of the squirrels had died and the remainder of the animals were placed in a zoo.
Four cases occurred of illegally landed animals which resulted in cautionary letters being
addressed to the owners. In February a Pekingese dog was discovered in the luggage of a person
who had not declared it to H.M. Customs. Also in February a person was discovered trying to
smuggle a cat through customs in a brief case. It was the intention to prosecute in this case but
the owner left the country. On 11th June, it was discovered that an Alsatian puppy had been
illegally imported the previous May. Information was received on 10th August that a sand fox had
been illegally imported the previous July. In each of the above cases cautionary letters were
addressed to the owners by the Comptroller and City Solicitor.
Two cases resulted in the owners being prosecuted. In March two dogs were illegally imported
from Afghanistan ait Heathrow and were taken to Corringham, Essex. They were eventually
placed into quarantine. On 27th July, a kitten was removed from a vessel at Royal Victoria Dock
and taken to Rugby. The animal was destroyed on 28th July.
In both cases the defendants pleaded guilty and were fined £20 with £5 costs and £10 with
£15 costs respectively.
Animals (Importation) Order 1930
Animals (Sea Transport) Order 1930 — Horses (Sea Transport) Order 1952
These Orders contain regulations designed to prevent unnecessary suffering and for the
protection of the animals. On 16th July, a visit was made to East India Docks concerning the
export of a Connemara horse to Barbados. Conditions were found to be satisfactory. The horse was
exported for breeding purposes.
The Orders also state that vessels from which imported animals have been landed shall be
cleansed and disinfected and that fodder, litter, etc. should be disposed of. A number of importations
took place at London Docks and officers attended to see that the terms and conditions were
carried out satisfactorily. The animals concerned comprised 29 polo ponies, 4 sheep, 7 elephants,
4 buffalo and 3 horses.
Export Certificates
Requests were received from nine firms for veterinary certificates of health to enable them
to export such varied commodities as pheasants, partridge, dog biscuits, hog casings, lamb
casings, ostrich feathers, rabbit furs, wood pigeon, rabbits, grouse, wool, hares, mallard and
venison. Thirty-nine such certificates were issued. Health certificates were also issued for a
cat which was being exported to Spain and a poodle dog, exported to Canada.
Exotic Animals (Importation) Order 1969
In April, enquiries were carried out at the request of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Food concerning a chimpanzee which was thought to have been imported in contravention of
the above Order. Enquiries revealed that the supplier of the animal resided in Yorkshire and
therefore the Ministry in Yorkshire were informed and continued enquiries.
In June a conference was attended on the transport of exotic animals. This conference was
organised by the Zoological Society of London and speakers and delegates attended from many
countries. Much useful information was obtained on the transport of animals by air and sea,
transport of dolphins, mortality in transit, etc.
Rabies Order 1938
Several cases of suspected rabies occurred requiring the action of Corporation Officers. In
July a member of the public and a policeman were bitten by a dog. The same animal had bitten a
child six weeks previously. The dog was taken to Battersea Dogs Home and destroyed, and
tests carried out proved negative for rabies. In September a cat, reported by its owner to be going
mad' was taken away and destroyed by the R.S.P.C.A. Inspector. Again tests for rabies proved
negative. A further case occurred in November, concerning a child, who was bitten by a dog
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