BASILDON Dogs Trust is urging people to resist buying puppies this Christmas to avoid helping to fuel the illegal puppy smuggling trade.
The charity revealed that in the lead-up to the festive period, smugglers are flooding the market with illegally imported puppies.
Dachshunds, bichons, and Pomeranians amongst the top breeds seized at UK border in the lead up to Christmas.
Charity bosses added that it is never a good idea to give a puppy as a gift.
Kelly Smith, Dogs Trust Rehoming centre manager said: “It’s very easy, especially when you’re looking for a puppy, to make decisions with your heart. But this is exactly the trap smugglers want you to fall into.
“Unknowingly buying a smuggled puppy could have very real consequences for the owner too. The puppy might be too young to have been legally imported, or have health issues that you don’t necessarily notice until too late.
“If we don’t crack down on puppy smuggling soon, our fear is that it will continue causing suffering and misery for so many dogs.
“We are urging the Government to progress the Kept Animals Bill through Parliament as a priority, to introduce vital protections for pets and bring an end to this barbaric trade.”
More than 2,000 puppies have been seized at the UK border and taken into Dogs Trust’s care as part of its Puppy Pilot scheme since it launched in 2015 - an estimated equivalent market value of over £3 million.
Dogs Trust has also seen a 60 per cent increase in the number of pregnant dogs seized at UK borders since 2021, many in the late stages of pregnancy and with some giving birth within days of arriving in the country.
The dog welfare charity expects numbers to continue to rise if urgent action is not taken.
The impact on animal welfare is significant, and it is not only health issues that affect dogs that have been imported illegally.
Not only have the pregnant dogs been found in horrendous conditions, but they are also often very nervous due to the traumatic experiences they have endured as mere money-making machines for the importers. This in turn can affect the development of their puppies and their ability to grow into happy, healthy adult dogs.
Dogs Trust Basildon believes the increase and popularity of shopping online, with people able to search and find a puppy advertised for sale at the click of a button, combined with paltry penalties for those caught illegally importing dogs relative to the huge profits to be made, is creating a ‘perfect storm’ for the puppy smuggling trade.
Whilst Basildon Dogs Trust is not advising buying a puppy this Christmas, they have released their “do’s and don’ts list” for buying responsibly:
1. Do ask to see mum and pup together;
2. Do visit your new pup more than once;
3. Do get all your pup’s paperwork before going home;
4. Do check that the pup is at a legal age to be separated from their mum;
5. Do walk away if you are at all unsure;
6. Do report all suspicious sellers or breeders to Trading Standards;
7. Don’t meet anywhere that isn’t the pup’s home;
8. Don’t buy a pup from anyone who can supply various breeds on demand;
9. Don’t pay anything until you have met the pup in person;
10. Don’t feel pressure to buy a puppy.