Five things you need to know about puppy smuggling

Five things you need to know about pandemic dog demand 

Recently, more and more of us have sought comfort in four-legged friends, who’ve brightened our days with their wagging tails, soulful eyes, and never-ending excitement for outdoorsy activities. However, the increase in demand for dogs during the pandemic has sent prices skyrocketing, tragically adding fuel to the fire of one of the world’s cruellest trades – puppy smuggling.  

At Dogs Trust, we’re determined to help rescued smuggled puppies to get back on their paws. So far, we’ve supported over 1,700 pups to recover from their trauma, like little Peggy who was found in the back of a van, terrified and drenched in engine oil.  

Here are five things you need to know about the increase in dog demand and how we stop at nothing for the puppies we care for.  

1. The demand for dogs has soared  

Since the first lockdown, Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ are up 213%. Upsettingly, the number of smuggled puppies who have needed our specialist care has also more than doubled. It’s clear that unscrupulous breeders are exploiting this demand to profit from unsuspecting dog lovers. Every day, smuggled puppies, legally too young to travel, are transported huge distances in appalling conditions. Some are taken from their mothers too early and are often forced to travel with little to no food or water, and no toilet breaks. Some do not survive. By the time puppies reach our rescue, they can be in incredibly poor health and require urgent veterinary care.  

2. Puppies are suffering and need help getting back on their paws  

Although our resources are stretched more than ever, we are determined to change the tale for these innocent dogs. As a result of their mistreatment, some of these rescued puppies suffer from severe medical problems. At just five weeks old, far too young to travel and improperly vaccinated, Tara had contracted parvovirus which could have taken her life. Others like Sean suffer from poor breeding, which most likely left him with a painful condition that meant he could barely open his eyes or see.  

3. We support puppies like Peggy, Tara and Sean for as long as it takes  

We’ll stop at nothing to give rescued puppies the care they need to recover from their ordeal. When Peggy arrived, we had to shave her fur to remove the engine oil and give her cosy jumpers to keep warm. Tara was able to recover from parvovirus and go on to have a better puppyhood, thanks to the tireless care of our team. 

Our vets performed life-changing surgery on Sean’s eyes, allowing him to finally see properly for the very first time. Understandably, Sean was a shy boy and needed extra help from our behaviour team to help come out of his shell. Now he gets really excited to see everyone. None of this specialist care is possible without the kindness of our devoted supporters. 

4. Spot the signs to avoid falling victim to puppy smugglers  

Puppy smugglers, unethical breeders and illegal dealers are experts in tricking unsuspecting dog-lovers into buying smuggled puppies. If you’re looking to buy a dog, do your research thoroughly. Ask to see the puppy with its mum and siblings, and visit more than once. Check all their paperwork carefully, and if you have any doubts or feel pressured, walk away and report the breeder to Trading Standards. Smugglers and illegal breeders can be extremely sophisticated, so please read our full puppy-buying advice to avoid falling victim to this cruel trade.  

If you’re thinking of welcoming a four-legged friend into your life, we’d encourage you to look at rehoming a rescue dog in the first instance. While this might take some time, if you’re dog-ready, it’s worth the wait to find your perfect match.  

Read our buyers' guide

Get advice and support from CTSI

Visit our rehoming pages

5. You can help us care for puppies suffering because of dog demand  

Sadly, we think that stories like Peggy's, Tara's and Sean’s are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the reality of dogs suffering due to dog demand. As the demand for puppies continues, we could see many more innocent pups needing our urgent medical care and life-saving support - but we can’t provide this without the kindness of people like you. Right now, thousands of other dogs are being bred to be sold to unsuspecting dog lovers. If you can, please donate today to help us be there for puppies paying the real price for the dog demand.  

Donate now