I am grateful to the Dogs Trust for highlighting this issue in their report 'Puppy Smuggling: A Tragedy Ignored.' Responsibility for stopping illegal movement begins in the country where puppies are born, so in response to the previous report highlighting the sharp increase in dogs coming from Lithuania and Hungary, the Chief Veterinary Officer wrote to the authorities in the highlighted countries to remind them of their duties.
An EU pet travel regulation introduced in 2014 brought further measures to strengthen enforcement. The new-style passport is harder to forge, new rules apply when more than five animals are moved together and all EU countries must carry out compliance checks. A 12-week minimum age for rabies vaccination assists compliance checking and restricts the movement of particularly young animals. As the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU, there will be opportunities to re-evaluate the rules and strengthen the precautions put in place in order to prevent the illegal entry of puppies into the United Kingdom.
There is a comprehensive checking regime for pets travelling to the United Kingdom already in place. Every pet travelling with its owner on an approved route is checked for compliance with the travel regime and the United Kingdom Border Force carries out a wide range of checks on vehicles arriving into the United Kingdom. They therefore work tirelessly to ensure that puppies coming in are in line with existing legislation.
It is also important to recognise there are things that we as individuals can do to work with the Government to help defeat this problem. We need to take care not to fuel demand for these animals by providing a market for the unscrupulous people who exploit them. Government advice advocates that people who buy a pet are responsible for knowing where it comes from and, if it is found to have been imported illegally, will be held responsible for any necessary quarantine and veterinary fees. Dogs Trust are therefore providing valuable advice in suggesting that those wishing to buy a puppy are cautious to verify the breeder's background.