Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, has lent her support to a campaign by the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, which highlights the plight of smuggled puppies imported to the country as part of the Christmas puppy trade.
This week, Dogs Trust, which coined the famous slogan ‘A dog is Life, not just for Christmas’ – invited MPs and Peers to its annual House of Commons reception, where the charity asked Parliamentarians for their support in the fight against Puppy Smuggling.
Dogs Trust has been investigating this problem since 2014, and through three undercover investigations has found that unscrupulous breeders take advantage of, and profit from issues with the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). As a result, underage puppies are being illegally imported into Great Britain from Central and Eastern Europe, and sold to unsuspecting members of the public.
Over the last few months, nearly 100 dogs were seized by APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) at the borders, as dealers take advantage of the increased demand for puppies in the run up to Christmas. Dogs Trust has found that of the puppies who do survive the appalling conditions they are forced to travel in, many require emergency treatment – with dehydration and malnutrition among the horrific conditions they suffer from as a result of travelling for thousands of miles in cramped conditions, with no food or water.
Thanks to quick intervention and expert care from the Puppy Pilot scheme, Dogs Trust has been able to save 94% of the puppies coming into care. 6% sadly passed away. Dogs Trust has also seen examples of heavily pregnant dogs coming into Great Britain, showing that breeders are stooping even lower to flout the system, with no regard for the welfare of the mum or her puppies.
Dogs Trust has warned that although there is a rise in puppies illegally imported during the festive season, illegally imported puppies is a huge issue all year round, with extreme cases reported of puppies being smuggled into the country in baskets covered with cling-film and crammed into suitcases. The organisation has issued advice to help anyone thinking of buying a puppy, to know what to look for, in a bid to stop buyers unwittingly fuelling the trade. The charity has also issued a plea to anyone thinking of getting a dog, to do their research or consider rehoming instead.
‘I am regularly contacted by a large number of people across Newcastle North about the welfare of dogs and puppies – and it’s clear that the plight of illegally imported puppies, who suffer the most harrowing of journeys at the hands of these unscrupulous dealers, is becoming an increasing problem.
‘I have repeatedly lobbied Ministers on this issue as I believe it’s imperative the Government takes immediate action by enforcing proper checks at ports and on-the-spot fines to deter these breeders and dealers, as well as introducing revised legislation as a priority when the UK leaves the EU.’
Adrian Burder, Dogs Trust CEO, said:
‘It’s a shame that we still have to remind people of our slogan, ‘A dog is for Life, not just for Christmas’ nearly 40 years on from its creation. We always encourage responsible rehoming, but as we’ve seen, dealers will go to great lengths to dupe innocent people, making it increasingly difficult for people to spot an illegally smuggled puppy.
‘Over the next 12 months, we will continue to push for proper enforcement at UK borders. We will also continue our Puppy Pilot scheme, which rescues puppies seized at borders, funds their quarantine and rehomes them responsibly. So far, this scheme has saved more than 600 puppies.
‘We can’t thank Catherine enough for her support, and we look forward to continuing to work together to tackle this issue, and make some much needed improvements in 2018 and when we leave the EU.’