British animal-welfare advocates are warning of a surge in the smuggling of puppies into the United Kingdom, mainly from Europe, caused by rising demand for new pets in the lead-up to Christmas.
Condemning what it calls the “cruel smuggling trade,” the Dogs Trust organization, which helps to monitor and prevent canine trafficking in Britain, is urging buyers not to fuel the demand for smuggled under-age dogs.
In the last two years the organization has had at least 200 puppies come into its care. October however saw 50 dogs seized, exceeding the 42 taken into care for the previous three months period last year, prompting the organization’s outreach to the media.
“It is likely just the tip of the iceberg. It’s impossible to know exactly how many puppies are being smuggled into the UK on a daily basis,” Veterinary Director at Dogs Trust, Dr. Paula Boyden MRCVS, told Sputnik.
In 2012 UK rules on animal movement were changed to harmonize laws with the European Union and ease the travel of at least 250,000 cats and dogs throughout the EU each year. The minimum age at which a puppy could be transported was dropped from 10 months to 15 weeks.
“What they’re doing is bringing in puppies much younger than 15 weeks, passing them off with fake passports saying they’re 15 weeks when they’re not,” Dr. Boyden explained.
Fears are growing that the ages of trafficked dogs are likely to decline even further as breeders rush to “produce” puppies to meet the Christmas demand.
According to Dr. Boyden, at least 80% of the puppies that pass into Dogs Trust’s care are French bulldogs, bulldogs, pugs and dachshunds, reflecting British society’s general breed preferences.
Dr. Boyden advises those looking to buy a dog to visit the breeder multiple times beforehand and to make sure the puppies are interacting closely with their mother.