NO TATTOO, NO TRAVEL

NO TATTOO, NO TRAVEL

ven in this global era, pet travel, like the course of true love, just doesn't run smoothly - at least when it comes to France and Britain, trade partners and fellow members of the European Union.

Britain launched a pilot program two weeks ago that made it possible to bring dogs and cats into the country from Western Europe without subjecting them to six months of quarantine. It was a sharp departure from the regulations set up nearly a century ago to protect British animals against rabies, and it is expected to be broadened to other countries and species next year.Under the British program, entry is quickly granted to canine and feline travelers that have had electronic microchips planted in their ear or thigh to detail their vaccination records and certify them as rabies-free.

There's just one problem for the British expatriates in France who have been eager to take advantage of the program: France, according to wire-service reports, doesn't recognize the microchips. It still requires travelers to comply with its traditional regulations, which mandate that pets must be vaccinated against rabies and tattooed to prove it.

To be sure, France has studied microchip identification for pets and has plans to implement a chip-based system some time in the future. But for now, there's no travel without the tattoo.

''We've been getting a lot of calls,'' an official at the British embassy in Paris told Reuters. ''Clearly people would rather not have to go through this extra hurdle. But this is a French rule, and the U.K. government doesn't have the authority to do anything about it.''