Dogs Trust Campaign Against Puppy Smuggling

On Tuesday, Dogs Trust held a reception in Parliament to highlight the charity’s important work combatting the issue of puppy smuggling. Dogs Trust’s latest report, Puppy Smuggling: A Tragedy Ignored, exposes the continued abuse of the Pet Travel Scheme, with breeders and dealers in Eastern Europe continuing to bring underage puppies into the country under false documentation. Illegally imported puppies make long journeys across thousands of miles, often in cramped, filthy conditions. Having had such a poor start in life, with minimal access to food and water, and no exercise or toilet breaks, they regularly arrive in the UK with terrible health conditions and behavioural problems.

EU legislation made it possible for people to travel to the UK with puppies as young as 15 weeks old where previously the minimum age of entry was 10 months. When the UK leaves the EU there is an opportunity for legislation to be revised by Defra to more effectively regulate pet travel, as well as to reintroduce rabies tests and tick treatments prior to animals being allowed to enter the UK.

Whilst the Government can do more to prevent illegal imports of puppies it is important that individuals looking to take on a pet act responsibly when making such a big life decision. Consider rehoming a dog from a shelter or, if you do want to take on a puppy, never buy from a pet shop as it is likely to have originated from a puppy farm.

When buying a puppy it is important you meet the mother of the pups and see her socialising with them. Responsible breeders will encourage you to meet your puppy several times before taking them home and will provide a genuine vet’s contact details. Illegally imported puppies will most likely not be with their parents, and breeders will often want to meet in a public place to drop off the pup, without providing proof of vaccinations, worming, or genetic health testing. If you do buy an illegally imported puppy it can be taken into quarantine for up to six months, leaving you liable for hundreds of pounds of vets bills and quarantine fees. The average cost to Dogs Trust of a rescued puppy to go through quarantine was £849.

If you have doubts about a breeder contact your local authority or Trading Standards Office and make a report. If there are signs of obvious neglect or cruelty, contact the RSPCA as soon as possible.

For more information on Dogs Trust’s campaign against puppy smuggling and responsibly buying a puppy please see: