WITH six weeks to go until Christmas, Dogs Trust is urging people not to fuel a cruel puppy trade by purchasing an illegally imported puppy.

The warning comes after nearly 100 puppies were seized in just one week at the UK border as devious importers hone in on the Christmas trade.

Many more are expected to be illegally imported into the country undetected in the run up to Christmas.

Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, exposed the horrors that illegally imported puppies are being forced to endure as part of their third undercover investigation earlier this year.

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director for Dogs Trust said: “Whilst many people’s purchases may be well intended, unbeknown to them the internet has become a thriving marketplace for advertising illegally imported puppies.

"Buying an illegally imported puppy could potentially cost well-meaning but unsuspecting families thousands of pounds in quarantine and vet bills and emotional heartache for the family if the puppy falls ill or worse, dies.

“We continue to be astounded at the lengths these deceptive breeders and dealers will go to in order to illegally import puppies to make huge profits with complete disregard for their wellbeing. The cases we are seeing on a weekly basis are horrific and need to stop.”

Northwich Guardian:

Litter of Chow Chows imported at just four weeks old

Uncovered during the seizure and other recent cases include:

  • Three cases of pregnant French Bulldog bitches being seized 
  • Three Bulldogs suffering with urine burns after travelling in poor conditions
  • Three French Bulldogs transported so young that they could fit in a small dog bowl
  • A litter of Chow Chows illegally imported through the border at just four weeks old - 11 weeks under the minimum age
  • Seven dogs with open infected wounds after having their ears and tails illegally cropped and docked.

The maximum sentence under the Non-Commercial Movement of Pet Animals (Amendment) Order 2011 is currently just three months and with importers making tens of thousands of pounds a year, the penalties are not a strong enough deterrent.

Northwich Guardian:

A litter of smuggled English Bulldogs

Paula added: “Members of the public have a crucial role to play too. We’re seeing a huge spike in online advertising and ‘trend buying’ of fashionable breeds with Pugs, Dachshunds, English and French Bulldogs making up 82% of those admitted to Dogs Trust through our Puppy Pilot.

"We urge anyone who is considering getting a puppy this Christmas or beyond, to make sure a dog is for life not just for Christmas. Please do think about the breed and your lifestyle as well as following buyer advice to help limit the chances your puppy is a smuggled one.”

The charity has produced some buyer advice to help people make sensible choices and avoid being tricked into buying puppies which have been illegally imported from Central and Eastern Europe.

What to look for when buying a puppy:

The charity advises potential pet owners to do their research first including the questions you should ask when you meet your new puppy for the first time.

Always ask about their age, microchip, worming and vaccinations, as well as their feeding.

If you are not sure on the things you should be asking, check out our top tips below.

1. Puppies should not leave their mum until they are eight weeks old

2. Puppies should have clean eyes, ears and bottom. They should be bright and lively, and keen to interact

3. Puppies must be microchipped, with the details on that chip registered to the breeder. When you get your new puppy home, the first thing you'll need to do is update the details on your puppy's microchip to your contact details. If you and your puppy ever become separated, a microchip is the best way to ensure you can be reunited

4. Ask about the vaccinations and worming treatments the puppy has had and make sure you get any paperwork associated with this

5. Some breeds can be prone to hereditary issues, which the parents should be screened for before breeding. Where you can, you should ask to see a copy of health screening papers of the puppy’s parents which detail any hereditary diseases

To support Dogs Trust’s campaign and for more tips and advice. visit www.puppysmuggling.org.uk