Sun, 16 June 2024

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Global Plastics Treaty - the 4th round of negotiations and how we ‘Bridge to Busan’ Partner content
Time to break down the barriers stalling water efficient housing Partner content
Press releases

Decision to scrap Animal Welfare Bill is deeply disappointing


4 min read

Yesterday, the government abandoned the planned introduction of crucial measures aimed at protecting dogs and puppies from being needlessly, cruelly and illegally smuggled into the United Kingdom

It goes without saying that no dog should have to suffer at the hands of these criminals. Yet, despite a manifesto commitment from the UK government to crack down on the illegal importation of dogs and puppies, nothing has been done.

Two years since we welcomed the introduction of the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, containing much-needed measures to help tackle the puppy smuggling trade – this key piece of legislation has been dropped.

How many more puppies and dogs will suffer while the government find time for yet another proposed bill?

Earlier this week, I visited No 10 and handed a letter addressed to the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on behalf of over 50,000 members of the British public, asking for his government to uphold their manifesto promise to put an end to this abhorrent trade before more animals suffer unnecessarily.

With the help of Waffle, a dog brought illegally into the country from Slovakia in a shoebox tied up with string, the letter stressed that time was running out to pass the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill. Now, just a few days later, we know that those efforts were in vain.

The Kept Animals Bill contained widely supported measures, including preventing mutilated dogs from entering Britain, restricting the acquisition of dogs with abhorrent mutilations such as cropped ears. It would of ended the suffering of puppies, often cruelly taken away from their mothers too early and transported in horrific conditions to line the pockets of criminals, and restricted the movement of heavily pregnant dogs.

As a self-professed nation of animal lovers, according to the government, we are deeply disappointed at their decision to backtrack on their commitment to protect the thousands of dogs that are smuggled into this country each year.

Unless the government follows through on its manifesto promise, more dogs will continue to suffer at the hands of criminals at home and abroad.

Whilst the government has reneged on their commitment to ending puppy smuggling in the form of the Kept Animals Bill, they stated their intention to address this in a slimmed-down bill in the future, but how many more puppies and dogs will suffer while the government find time for yet another proposed bill?

We still need assurance that all the vital measures within the original bill will be addressed.

As mentioned, the bill would have introduced vital restrictions needed to stop dogs with mutilations from entering the UK. I am sure many of your readers are aware of, and are appalled with, the inhumane process of ear cropping – a painful and unnecessary practice that can have detrimental effects on a dog’s health, behaviour and welfare.

The issue we currently face is that while it is illegal to crop a dog’s ears in all nations of the UK and EU countries, it is not illegal to sell or import dogs whose ears were cropped abroad. This loophole needs to be addressed. The Kept Animals Bill contained measures to do exactly this. It also included measures to ban the importation of dogs in the later stages of pregnancy.

As the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, we have grave concerns that the continued delays of much-needed legislation to end the horrific puppy smuggling trade are allowing unscrupulous traders to profit unabated while the suffering of dogs and puppies continues.  

In the two years since the bill was first introduced, Dogs Trust has seen an increase in dogs with cropped ears being brought into the country, as well as caring for 485 more puppies that have been illegally imported into the country. We have also looked after 101 dogs who were transported while heavily pregnant, and subsequently cared for their litters totalling more than 500 puppies. 


Dr Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust

PoliticsHome Newsletters

Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.