Dogs Trust urges Welsh Assembly to put a stop to sickening puppy smuggling trade
We're calling on Welsh Assembly members (AMs) to join our campaign against puppy smuggling, after our latest undercover investigation discovered smugglers across Central and Eastern Europe continue to abuse the system.
We're also asking members of the public to contact their local AM (Assembly Member), asking them to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs to insist that the government revise inadequate legislation to put a stop to this horrific trade.
All 60 AM's will receive a copy of our third investigative report, 'Puppy Smuggling: A Tragedy Ignored' this week, which discovered a vet in Lithuania selling sedatives to allow puppies to be smuggled across the British border as well as puppies as young as four weeks old being smuggled in with their umbilical chords still attached during a cramped 1,000 mile, 30 - hour journey across Europe.
In another shocking case, puppies were observed vomiting, and others eating their own faeces during a journey in a packed mini-van from Lithuania. Confined to pet carriers stacked amongst other packages in the back of the van with no air conditioning, and outside temperatures of 25 degrees, the puppies were given water just twice and not fed at all. Vets in Poland and Lithuania were also filmed falsifying pet passports and faking rabies vaccination records, enabling underage puppies to slip through the net without the correct paperwork.
Paula Boyden, Dogs Trust Veterinary Director says:
“These shocking cases clearly show that urgent action is needed to stop the puppy smuggling scandal. It remains as serious an issue for animal welfare and public health in 2017 as it did in 2014, when our first investigation highlighted the devastating effects of the 2012 changes to the Pet Travel Scheme, which effectively invited corrupt dealers to traffic underage puppies into Great Britain without the required treatments.
“The number of prosecutions is far too low and the lack of visual checks at ferry ports and borders is unacceptable. We want to see stronger deterrents including prison sentences for those caught trafficking puppies. To highlight the flaws in the system, we smuggled a fake dog ‘Charly’ though the border twice – once at Eurotunnel and once at Dover – after no visual checks were made.
“The government must revise pet travel legislation when the UK leaves the EU and ensure that puppies entering this country are healthy, not underage and are not being brought in to sell on to unsuspecting buyers via a scheme meant for non-commercial use.”
Puppies are bred in large numbers, often in horrific conditions in Central and Eastern Europe by corrupt breeders who are continuing to exploit the demand for these desirable breeds in Great Britain. They are brought into the country illegally at a young age in order to appear ‘cuter’ to buyers, with desirable breeds such as Pug puppies, Dachshund puppies, English and French Bulldog puppies making up 82% of those intercepted at the border.
With around 3,000 dogs for sale in Wales on online classified websites on any given day, the demand for designer puppies is huge. Unscrupulous breeders and dealers are exploiting this growing demand by illegally importing puppies into the country, with no regard for the welfare of the dogs. Buyers often have no idea that their puppy has been illegally imported until it is too late.
In 2016 alone, 275,876 dogs travelled to Great Britain on the Pet Travel Scheme; a non-commercial system allowing animals to travel easily between EU Member States without undergoing quarantine. The highest number of puppies intercepted as part of the Dogs Trust Puppy Pilot arrived from Hungary, Poland and Lithuania with Latvia, Slovakia and Romania also predominant. Of the puppies seized, more than 95% of puppies rescued by Dogs Trust were deemed too young to travel and 6% sadly died due to poor health, malnutrition and dehydration.
“Following two previous investigations in 2014 and 2015, we launched our Puppy Pilot scheme. Through this, and with the help of APHA, Border Force and Kent Trading Standards, we have funded the quarantine costs of over 500 illegally imported puppies and found them new homes through our rehoming centres. Until Dogs Trust stepped in, seized puppies were at risk of being put to sleep or turned away at the borders.”
Television and radio presenter Dermot O’Leary is backing the campaign and says: “As a dog lover myself I was horrified to learn that puppies are being smuggled into Great Britain in such terrible condition. I fully support Dogs Trust’s campaign to increase awareness of the puppy smuggling scandal.”