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Dogs Trust urges Government to crack down on puppy smuggling

Dogs Trust

3 min read Partner content

Dogs Trust’s latest investigation into the illegal puppy trade reveals continued abuse of pet travel legislation.

As the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust is always working hard to improve the lives of our four-legged friends. That’s why our annual reception in the House of Commons on Tuesday 4th December will highlight our work on the issue of puppy smuggling and urge government to take urgent action to stop the illegal importation of puppies into Great Britain.

This follows our latest undercover investigation into the illegal puppy trade, which revealed that pet travel legislation continues to be abused, with vets in Eastern Europe providing falsified pet passports for underage puppies.

Worryingly, our fourth investigation in as many years revealed a new trade route for smugglers from a Third country, Serbia, where more stringent rules must be followed before pets can travel to the EU. If these rules are followed properly a puppy would be at least seven months old before it could travel to the EU. To get around the rules, we discovered vets in Serbia providing much younger puppies with pre-filled Hungarian and Bulgarian passports and microchips, passing them off as EU-bred animals.

Our findings also include cases of heavily pregnant bitches, caged in sickening conditions and forced to endure gruelling journeys towards the end of their pregnancy to allow for the puppies to be born in the UK and quickly sold on to unsuspecting buyers.

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director of Dogs Trust, says:

“Our fourth investigation adds to the mountain of evidence we have already presented to government on the illegal puppy trade and demonstrates the evolving tactics of the players involved.

“The demand for designer breeds such as Pugs, Dachshunds and French Bulldogs, and the high prices they fetch makes the UK a very attractive market to unscrupulous breeders who have no regard for the welfare of these puppies. There is so much for them to gain financially and, given the woefully inadequate penalties for being caught illegally importing puppies, very little for them to lose.

“As pet travel is currently governed by EU legislation, Brexit presents a crucial opportunity for government to put robust measures in place that protect dogs and the public. We urge the government to take forward our clear recommendations to overhaul our pet travel legislation and stamp out this despicable trade.”

We hope we can rely on MPs and Peers to attend our reception and support the campaign to end puppy smuggling by taking part in our exciting photo opportunity and experiencing the journey of an illegally imported puppy from Eastern Europe to Great Britain through our virtual reality goggles.

More information about Dogs Trust’s work on the issue of puppy smuggling can be found at


Dogs' Trust Reception

December 4th, House of Commons Terrace Pavilion (12:30 – 15:00)


Jim Monteith, Interim CEO, Dogs Trust

David Rutley, Minister for Animal Welfare

Andrea Jenkyns, MP for Morley and Outwood and event sponsor

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director, Dogs Trust


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