Dogs Trust

Heavily pregnant dogs are latest victims of horrifying Puppy Smuggling trade

We are calling on the government to take urgent legal action to end the cruel practice of puppy smuggling in the wake of further evidence of underage puppies and heavily pregnant dogs being imported illegally into the UK.

After conducting four investigations and releasing four reports on this issue, we are gathering increasing public support for its campaign.

Eight recent victims of the cruel puppy smuggling industry include six-week-old Dachshund puppies and their mum, Daisy. Daisy was illegally imported into the country in the last stages of her pregnancy, which is prohibited under the Welfare of Animals in Transport Order. After being seized by authorities she gave birth soon after to seven pups who have now found homes through our rehoming centres.

Over the past four years nearly 1,000 dogs have been cared for by our Puppy Pilot, a scheme we established to aid the interception of dogs seized by APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) at the ports and provide care and rehabilitation for them prior to finding them new homes.

These dogs would have been worth over £1 million to those illegally importing them. 63% of dogs on the scheme have been French Bulldogs, Dachshunds and Pugs which are amongst the most commonly imported dogs, fetching between £800 - £2,000 per dog.

To stop more people being duped by unscrupulous breeders, we are asking the public to be alert to sellers peddling puppies for profit and to heed our buyer advice.

With ineffective deterrents for those caught illegally importing dogs, an urgent overhaul of our pet travel legislation is desperately needed. This is something we have long been calling for the Government to push forward.

Last week we visited Number 10 Downing Street alongside 11 of the 137 MPs calling for an urgent resolution to this horrifying trade. They took with them a pledge book of support and our most recent report into Puppy Smuggling.

Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden says:

“The complete disregard for the health and welfare of dogs being illegally imported is appalling. We were shocked to see such a heavily pregnant dog transported in this way. We urgently need to see a number of changes, including visual checks on all dogs entering the UK; out of hours and weekend cover at ports by Government agencies and increased maximum penalties for those caught alongside punitive Fixed Penalty Notices.

"We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has written to their MP to join our call for action now. Heightened consumer knowledge and new legislation will be the first of many steps to eradicate this horrifying trade. We hope that the growing weight of evidence on the issue and support from the public and MPs spurs the government to take forward our clear recommendations.”

Our recent poll of almost 2,000 people showed:

  • Half of dog owners only saw their dog once before taking them home – only 13% saw them more than twice – the latter is recommended in our buyer advice
  • 11% of people collected their dogs from somewhere that wasn’t the dogs’ home, such as a car park – a classic sign that a seller is looking to shift puppies quickly to make a fast sale. No puppy should be sold without its mum in sight

Help us put a stop to Puppy Smuggling