Enforcement of Biosecurity for Animal Imports

While DAWR works hard to ensure all international Melbourne Cup contenders are free of exotic pests and diseases, another celebrity tries to bring in an undocumented dog.


As an island nation, Australia is fortunate to be free of many of the animal diseases found in other parts of the world. An outbreak of equine influenza, like the one in 2007, could devastate the Australian horse and racing industries. The conditions covering dogs were developed to protect Australia from a number of pests and diseases including rabies, ehrlichia, leishmania and leptospirosis. Every year more than 60,000 people worldwide die from rabies and 99% of these cases are caused by the bite of a rabies-infected dog.

As the excitement builds for Tuesday’s highly anticipated Melbourne Cup race, biosecurity officials have been working diligently behind the scenes to ensure that all 21 international contenders are free of exotic pests and diseases, and are ready for the race that stops the nation. International racehorses need to comply with strict biosecurity conditions, which includes at least 14 days in pre-export quarantine overseas, followed by at least 14 days of post-arrival quarantine in Australia, where they are tested for a range of biosecurity threats.

The Melbourne Cup features prominently on the world racing calendar, allowing Australians to see the world’s best horses compete—an opportunity that would not be possible without Australia’s stringent biosecurity controls that keep unwanted animal diseases at bay.

Meanwhile, a pet French bulldog belonging to new Brisbane Bullets import Lamar Patterson has been flown back to the United States after the basketballer tried to bring the animal into Australia in his hand luggage. The pooch called Kobe had endured the 14-hour flight from Los Angeles to Brisbane, undetected by Qantas staff. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will be investigating the circumstances, including airline procedures, that led to the dog arriving in Australia. The situation mirrors the Pistol and Boo saga in 2016, when film star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard brought their two Yorkshire terriers into Australia on a private jet in 2016 without the proper paperwork.

Diseases such as rabies and leptospirosis are not present in Australia today, however even one illegally imported dog that has not undertaken the correct health checks or tests could change that. Sound biosecurity management is the best solution when bringing either dogs or horses into Australia.