A toy dog has been smuggled into Great Britain by Dogs Trust to highlight the continued abuse of the Pet Passport Scheme.
Underage and unvaccinated puppies continue to travel illegally from Eastern Europe to Great Britain, where they are sold online by commercial dealers and breeders, according to the charity.
Influx of illegal puppies
To highlight the problem, volunteers “smuggled” a stuffed toy dog in a carry crate from Europe on to British soil on multiple occasions, without any enforcer identifying it as fake.
The influx of illegally landed puppies from Eastern Europe was first highlighted by the charity in November 2014 following a relaxation of the Pet Travel Scheme in 2012.
The findings were presented to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which heralded planned changes to the Pet Travel Scheme (which came into force at the end of 2014) as the solution. At the time Dogs Trust voiced its suspicions that the changes would be ineffective and has now claimed the findings of its latest investigation have proven this to be correct.
Dogs Trust has also gathered evidence of corruption from vets and breeders in Lithuania and Romania, and also looked at the ease in which commercial transporters can illegally bring puppies into Great Britain under a scheme designed for pet owners.
Dogs Trust veterinary director Paula Boyden said: “Dogs Trust has twice now presented Defra with evidence of the illegal puppy trade, both from those smuggling puppies and those exploiting the Pet Travel Scheme for profit. We have provided detailed recommendations, which, if implemented, would act as a great step forward in curbing the problem.
“We are hugely disappointed with Defra’s response. As our evidence demonstrates, the Pet Travel Scheme amendments in December 2014 have been ineffective, we urge all the appropriate agencies to take the findings of our two investigations seriously.
“The implications of the puppy smuggling trade are huge; for consumers who are being duped and the puppies that suffer horribly, plus the risk of disease that is kicking at our shores.
“We need a joined up approach and Government support – it cannot be left to animal welfare charities and concerned individuals to fight the puppy smuggling scandal alone.”