LETTER: The Government needs to act now

A reader discusses puppy smuggling.


Every year thousands of puppies are smuggled across Europe in appalling conditions to be mis-sold to UK dog lovers. Many suffer life-threatening health conditions, and some don’t survive, leaving their buyers helpless and heartbroken – as well as out of pocket.

Demand for dogs has soared during lockdown and it’s creating a lucrative market for puppy smugglers. Since lockdown started, Dogs Trust has rescued 14 heavily pregnant mums, and an incredible 140 puppies that could have fetched over £380,000 for cruel smugglers, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Yesterday (Tuesday 24 November) Dogs Trust Veterinary Director Paula Boyden gave evidence to a special one-off EFRA session (The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee) on puppy smuggling, to urge the Government to take action.

Something has to change. For over six years we’ve campaigned to end this abhorrent trade, yet Government continues to drag its heels. Despite the three largest political parties pledging to stop puppy smuggling at last year’s General Election, over 200 Parliamentary Questions being tabled on puppy smuggling since 2014, and 148 MPs joining our puppy smuggling campaign, we’re no closer to seeing this suffering end. In fact, we have yet to see any significant action from Government at all.

Current legislation is not fit for purpose. We need to cut this trade off at the source and close the loopholes which put innocent puppies at risk, and we need to do this urgently. As the Brexit transition period draws to a close on 31 December, now is the time for Government to act and, dare we say, ‘take back control’ of this spiralling situation.

Government must change the law to raise the minimum age for puppies to be imported into the UK to a minimum of six months to make them less desirable to buy and sell, and introduce tougher penalties for smuggling.

With every day of delay more innocent puppies will continue to pay the price.

Owen Sharp, CEO at Dogs Trust

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