Daisy the dachshund's puppy born days after being smuggles into UK (Image: Beth Walsh)
The mother dog was seized at a border checkpoint as part of a consignment of pedigree breeds heavily pregnant with lucrative puppies. Dogs with a street value of more than £1million have been intercepted at UK ports over the last four years as European gangs cash in on the huge UK market for puppies. Such is the demand for trendy breeds that pregnant dogs are now being illegally exploited by cruel dealers desperate to smuggle more puppies into the country in single trips so they can be classed as “UK-born" to get quicker sales.
Adorable Daisy was one of three pregnant dachshunds seized recently at a UK port. She gave birth to her litter within days.
It is both cruel and illegal to move dogs in the latter stages of pregnancy under the Welfare of Animals in Transport Order, but the demand for puppies and the ineffective deterrents are driving the profitable but illicit trade. French bulldogs, pugs and dachshunds are the most commonly imported dogs into the UK with price tags of between £800 to £2,000.
The Dogs Trust has carried out four investigations to highlight the way puppies are industrially bred in Central and Eastern Europe then shipped to the UK, both underage and with false paperwork. Puppies can endure 30-hour journeys with little water and toilet breaks. Some are sedated.
Corrupt vets are also providing fake vaccination stamps to allow puppies to travel when they are younger than legally allowed and not protected from diseases. One breeder told undercover investigators how he has up to 300 bitches producing puppies for sale. The value of French bulldogs – recently declared Britain’s most popular pedigrees – seized over the past four years at UK border is said to be worth more than £500,000.
Daisy the dachshund with her litter of puppies born days after being intercepted at UK port (Image: Beth Walsh)
As Daisy’s seven puppies are rehomed by the Dogs Trust, the charity is demanding tougher measure to combat the smuggling racketeers. A report of its investigations was handed to Number 10 last week by MPs who are calling for an end to the cruel trade.
Dogs Trust Veterinary Director Paula Boyden said today: “The complete disregard for the health and welfare of dogs being illegally imported is appalling. We were shocked to see such a heavily pregnant dog transported in this way. We urgently need to see a number of changes, including visual checks on all dogs entering the UK; out of hours and weekend cover at ports by Government agencies and increased maximum penalties for those caught alongside punitive Fixed Penalty Notices.
“We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has written to their MP to join our call for action now. Heightened consumer knowledge and new legislation will be the first of many steps to eradicate this horrifying trade. We hope that the growing weight of evidence on the issue and support from the public and MPs spurs the Government to take forward our clear recommendations.”
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MPs and Dogs Trust hand in puppy smuggling report to Number 10 (Image: Gerard Farrell)
The Dogs Trust’s Puppy Pilot scheme set up by the charity to care and rehabilitate puppies seized at ports before they are re-homed has now helped nearly 1,000 animals since 2014.
Results of a recent poll by the charity shows how owners continue to exacerbate the illegal trade in not taking the correct steps to ensure the puppy they are buying comes from a reputable source. More than one in 10 admitted collecting a puppy from somewhere that was not the pet's home such as a car park. Campaigners say such oversights allow dealers to make quick sales. Puppies should never be sold without their mother in sight.
Among the urgent recommendations the Dogs Trust is making to ministers to crack down on the illicit puppy trade are:
*Reducing the number of dogs allowed under non-commercial movement rules;
* Visual checks for all dogs entering the UK;
* Enforcement of pet travel laws should be shifted from carriers, such as ferry companies, to Government agencies;
* Increasing maximum penalties for those caught illegally importing dogs.