Callous puppy smugglers trying to cash in on Christmas are the targets of a new campaign aimed at cracking down on the abhorrent practice. Since the launch of Dogs Trust’s Puppy Pilot scheme in 2015, more than 2,000 puppies with an estimated market value of more than £3 million have been seized at the UK border and taken into the charity’s care.
Disturbingly, Dogs Trust has also recorded a 60 percent rise in the number of pregnant dogs seized at UK borders since 2021, many of which are in the latter stages of pregnancy, including some who have given birth days after arriving.
Paula Boyden, Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, said: “It’s very easy, especially when you’re looking for a puppy, to make decisions with your heart.
“But unknowingly buying a smuggled puppy could have very real consequences for the new owner.
“The puppy might be too young to have been legally imported or have health issues that you don’t necessarily notice until too late.”
She added: “The need for our services continues to be greater than ever and this year, quarantine and emergency kenneling facilities have been supported by funding raised by generous players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.
“We want to say thank you to the players, as their support has meant we have been able to provide essential facilities and the care these puppies and pregnant dogs need when they arrive in the UK, before coming into Dogs Trust’s care to be rehabilitated and rehomed.”
Dogs Trust, which is Britain’s biggest dog welfare charity, is anticipating that numbers will keep climbing unless urgent action is taken.
The Puppy Pilot scheme was originally launched to aid the interception of illegally imported puppies by APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) at the ports and provide care and rehabilitation for them before finding them their forever homes.
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The legislation includes the provision of new powers which would enable the Government to introduce measures via secondary legislation to tackle abuses of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).
Dogs Trust recently sent an open letter to Zac Goldsmith, Minister for Animal Welfare, calling on the Government to intervene to address the alarming increase in the number of pregnant dogs being illegally imported by bringing the Kept Animals Bill back to Parliament immediately.
The letter has been signed by over 60 MPs supporting the charity’s campaign to tackle puppy smuggling.