Dogs Trust

We welcome Westminster Hall debate on the cruel Puppy Smuggling trade

Today, we strongly welcome the debate in Westminster Hall led by Nigel Huddleston MP on the cruel practice of Puppy Smuggling.

We have been highlighting the illegal importation of puppies for several years have worked closely with MPs across the country to highlight the need for our pet travel legislation to be redrawn.

  1. 13,500 members of the public have emailed their MP to call for an end to Puppy Smuggling
  2. We have had the support of 137 MPs calling for immediate changes to the Pet Travel Legislation, which we took to Downing Street. Since then, that number has risen to 143 MPs
  3. We have united with Vet Times and Veterinary professionals to uncover further evidence of the scale of the problem
  4. We have seen the street value of dogs intercepted at ports rise to an estimated £1million

Our fourth report revealed a potential new trade route used by illegal puppy importers coming from Serbia. Underage puppies are forced to travel over 30 hours from Central and Eastern Europe in appalling conditions. We have also highlighted further evidence of heavily pregnant dogs being illegally imported. Following advice to see a pup with their mum, transporting heavily pregnant mums into this country demonstrates the evolving tactics by smugglers in order to dupe unsuspecting owners into buying a potentially poorly bred puppy.

Over the past four years, we have cared for nearly 1,000 dogs as part of our Puppy Pilot – a scheme that supports the interception of dogs seized by APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) at the ports by providing care and rehabilitation for them before new homes are found through our rehoming centres. These dogs would have had a street value of over £1million.

With significant financial gain for smugglers and ineffective deterrents for those caught illegally importing dogs, we are calling for an urgent overhaul of pet travel legislation.

Says Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director:

“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 the introduction of punitive Fixed Penalty Notices.

“I suspect what we have seen is only the tip of the iceberg. We have recently teamed up with Vet Times magazine to survey vet professionals more closely on this issue, which will advance our understanding of the true scale of this problem. This research, combined with today’s debate will hopefully provide clear evidence for the necessary and immediate changes to the law that are required to put an end to this abhorrent trade.” 

Nigel Huddleston, MP for Mid Worcestershire says:

“The Government has made it clear it takes seriously the issue of animal welfare, but it could go further. For instance, I would urge the Government to bring before Parliament, as soon as the legislative timetable allows, the introduction of on the spot fines for those caught illegally importing dogs. An improved presence at our border is also vital to tackling this trade, and the current disparity in the border presence between office hours and weekend/evening slots can be too easily exploited by smugglers.”

Help us put a stop to Puppy Smuggling