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Open for Business: The Puppies Illegally Imported for Christmas

14 November 2014

ANALYSIS - An undercover investigation by the Dogs Trust has revealed the devastating levels of corruption at the heart of the puppy smuggling trade, writes Gemma Hyland.

According to the welfare charity, today marks the beginning of a surge in puppies being illegally imported into Great Britain from Eastern Europe in time for the Christmas puppy purchase rush.

Do you know where your dog came from?

Shocking investigative footage reveals criminal breeders, vets and transporters in Hungary and Lithuania abusing the Pet Travel Scheme with a lack of adequate enforcement and protocol by the relevant authorities.

European vets have been caught on camera creating false pet passports and fake rabies vaccination records; the charity reveals underage puppies slipping through the net undeclared and lack of checks at ferry ports and borders, simplifying the smuggling process.

With breeders making upwards of £100,000 a year from the sale of smuggled puppies, the trade is spiralling out of control with no deterrent.

Puppies bound for UK homes are suffering every day at the hands of the smuggling trade.

They travel over a thousand miles, often in appalling conditions, and most importantly don’t have the correct treatments or vaccinations, increasing the risk to British dog owners of serious disease including potentially a severely debilitating tapeworm and even rabies.

Paula Boyden, Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, said: “While a dog is for life, not just for Christmas remains our famous slogan, a puppy remains on the top of many wish lists.

"Unsuspecting British shoppers will continue to buy puppies online which may have been brought into the country illegally; meaning the risk of unknowingly bringing a puppy from Eastern Europe with diseases and behavioural problems into the home is very real."

'Shocking discovery'

Responding to today's report, British Veterinary Association (BVA) President, John Blackwell said: “The Dogs Trust report on the illegal trade in puppies highlights the serious concerns that BVA has raised with Defra over the level of controls and checks at our borders. A recent survey of our members found that 1 in 8 had reported concerns about non-compliant passports to Trading Standards in the last 12 months.

“When illegal activity is involved the risk of disease entering the country is increased. The UK is free of the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, which can have a very serious impact on human health. If passports are being altered and dogs are being brought into the UK under the radar we have no idea if they have been treated for the tapeworm. And even though the risk of incursion of rabies is low, if passports are being falsified we simply don’t know if animals are being effectively vaccinated.

“It is shocking to learn that veterinary surgeons within the EU are implicated in the Dogs Trust exposé and we call on the UK Chief Veterinary Officer to raise these concerns with the Hungarian and Lithuanian authorities as a matter of urgency.

Further Reading

You can download the full report by clicking here.

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Gemma Hyland, Editor

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