A Swiss woman was arrested in Höfn, southeast Iceland, on Saturday evening for smuggling her cat into Iceland. The cat was found and destroyed by authorities.
The woman, who was traveling alone, had arrived in Iceland with the Norröna ferry on Tuesday.
Under Icelandic law, pets entering Iceland can only do so through Keflavík International Airport, and as well as fulfilling all the standards of the European Pet Passport, must also spend four weeks in quarantine thanks to Iceland’s extremely tough disease prevention laws, which also state that any smuggled animal must be put down and the body destroyed, RÚV reports.
In addition to losing her cat and being arrested, the woman will also now be charged for the disinfecting of her entire camper van, inside and out, as well as other associated costs.
The independent vet in Höfn called the East Iceland head regional vet on Saturday upon hearing rumors of a foreign couple traveling with their cat. The vet was advised to call the police, who arrested the Swiss woman within two hours.
Despite the law being perfectly clear, and strongly enforced, many in Iceland are today asking if the authorities went too far in this case.
One social media user claims the woman is in her sixties and was not attempting to hide her cat in any way and simply did not know that its pet passport was not valid in Iceland—adding that the cat had previously traveled throughout Europe with its owner without incident.
Another commenter asks whether confiscating the cat and taking it for a vet’s check up at the owner's expense might not have been a better option.
The law is the law but, some are asking, is there room for interpretation on humanitarian grounds?
Separate to this case, there has also been ongoing debate in Iceland for several years about whether or not to join the European Pet Passport scheme. Predictably, the idea is popular with pet owners and unpopular with farmers.
This article has been updated as some earlier reports suggested the woman was traveling with her husband.