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Martin & Dogs Trust highlight issue of puppy smuggling at House of Commons


On Tuesday (1st December) Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity took the opportunity to highlight the UK’s growing puppy smuggling problem to a host of MPs at its annual House of Commons reception hosted by Sir Roger Gale MP and supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery. West Dunbartonshire MP, Martin Docherty, attended the event.


Following its initial report into puppy smuggling in November 2014, Dogs Trust this year conducted its second in-depth investigative report focused on the puppies travelling illegally into Britain under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Dogs Trust found substantial evidence that underage puppies are still regularly entering the country on false documentation and are subsequently sold to unsuspecting consumers.


Despite recent changes to the PETS designed to strengthen the scheme, the report found evidence of;


  • Ineffective border controls and enforcement of PETS at British ports, with no requirement on enforcers to carry out even a basic sight check on the animal being imported
  • Dogs Trust managed to transport a stuffed toy with a pet passport three times without anyone noticing the dog was not alive
  • Breeders and dealers from Lithuania and Romania using the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) for the commercial importation of puppies to Great Britain, it is just for owned pets
  • Breeders and dealers from Lithuania and Romania supplying young puppies under 12 weeks of age – the legal age at which puppies can be vaccinated against rabies – with dates of birth simply being faked on pet passports
  • Vets in Lithuania and Romania falsifying data on pet passports for PETS
  • Puppies bred in horrendous conditions in Eastern Europe
  • Puppies from Eastern Europe advertised online with no reference to their countries of origin


To emphasise how easily unethical dealers are able to bring underage, sickly, or undocumented puppies into Great Britain, MPs were invited to take part in a photo opportunity which saw them standing in front of a giant fake pet passport. They were surrounded by toy puppies that Dogs Trust smuggled through Britain’s ports as part of their investigation, to illustrate the ineffectiveness of patrols at the ports.


Martin Docherty MP said,


“I am delighted to support Dogs Trust in raising awareness of the issue of illegal puppy smuggling. Not only is this issue affecting unwitting members of the public who are buying puppies without knowing where in the world they have come from, but it also brings with it a risk of disease to humans and dogs.


As a dog owner myself, I am particularly concerned that there are also huge welfare concerns for puppies being transported such long distances at such a young age. It’s evident that greater measures need to be put in place to deter people from smuggling puppies into this country illegally.”


Adrian Burder, Dogs Trust CEO says,


“Dogs Trust’s famous slogan A dog is for life, not just for Christmas is 37 years old but it is still, sadly, as relevant as ever with puppies available to buy at the click of a button online. As we approach the festive period, I would like to remind anyone thinking of getting a dog to do their research and ensure they know where their dog is coming from before making the decision to bring a four legged friend into their home. Dog lovers could inadvertently be lining the pockets of unscrupulous breeders and fuelling the illegal puppy smuggling trade.


Dogs Trust would like to see far more being done to ensure that proper checks at ports are enforced, that on the spot fines are handed out to those individuals smuggling puppies illegally to act as a deterrent and that a nationwide multi-agency strategy is put in place to deal with this issue once and for all.”


Jo Bucci, Managing Director of People’s Postcode Lottery added,

“I am delighted that the funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery has helped to ensure Dogs Trust is able to carry out important work like this. I hope this event helps to raise further awareness of this issue and bring about some effective change for the welfare of dogs.”

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