The history of Puppy Smuggling

We started investigating this cruel trade in 2014. Sadly, it's still as big a problem today as it was then.
Read our latest report.

Have you accidentally bought a smuggled puppy?

If you have bought a puppy from somebody which later turned out to be an illegally imported pup, we would love to hear your story. We need your help so we can make sure other people can avoid buying from these dangerous people, who put making a profit before dog welfare. Please email us at [email protected]. With your help, we can put a stop to the suffering of thousands of dogs.

Unless we put a stop to it, more puppies will suffer

Our first of five undercover investigations came after the rules of the Pet Travel Scheme changed in 2012, which relaxed the rules of pet travel to and from the UK and the EU, so our rules could be more in tune with the EU's rules.

Under previous rules puppies had to be at least ten months old before they could enter the UK. A passport would not be issued unless they were microchipped, vaccinated and had a blood test to confirm response to rabies vaccination. Owners had to wait six months from the date of the blood test results before they were allowed to travel with their pup. They also had to be treated against ticks and tapeworm before (re)entry to the UK.

The new changes set alarm bells ringing...  

Now, the only requirement to get a puppy passport was a rabies vaccination and a microchip; no blood tests to prove a rabies jab had been effective. This meant owners only had to wait a mere three weeks after their pup's vaccination. Puppies could now travel as young as 15 weeks old. No tick treatment, and a longer interval in which to treat against tapeworm.

Sadly, these changes opened the floodgates for thousands of puppies to be illegally imported from Europe. As our undercover investigations found, it wasn’t just the people actually smuggling the pups into the UK at fault, but a web of deceit that included underhand vets they worked with who could make it as easy as possible to get these puppies into the hands of unscrupulous dealers waiting to sell them here in the UK, by falsifying age and vaccination details on their passports.

So far, our investigations have found…

  1. Here in the UK, devious breeders selling puppies ranging from 7-12 weeks old. Under current pet travel rules puppies should be at least 15 weeks old
  2. Vets in Lithuania, Hungary, Poland and Romania falsifying pet passports and altering documents to say puppies had been given rabies vaccinations that made them fit for travel. Puppies must be at least 12 weeks old before a Rabies vaccine
  3. How easy it is to buy a smuggled puppy from an unscrupulous breeder We bought a puppy via an online advert who was found to be only ten weeks old, and without a rabies vaccination. If it was this easy for us to do, how many more underage, under socialised and unvaccinated puppies are there out there?

As our investigations have progressed – each one has been more shocking than the last

We witness the lengths unscrupulous breeders will go to, to meet the demand for cute, fashionable breeds such as French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Dachshunds and Chow Chows in the UK. Why? Because devious breeders and dealers will go to any lengths to make money, leaving unsuspecting people in the UK - who want to give a puppy a home – to pick up the pieces.

We have seen some horrific cases. Puppies transported in horrendous conditions, one group with nothing more than cling film over the top of the wicker basket they were travelling in.

We are on a mission

  1. We want to stop this cruel trade
  2. We want to educate people on how to buy a puppy responsibly
  3. We want the Government to make the regulation of pet travel a top priority after our exit from the EU

Sometimes if an online advert for a puppy is too good to be true, it probably is. After all, if you knew what that puppy was going to go through, would you buy it?