Dog lovers hope the Government will use new post-Brexit freedoms to raise the minimum age that a puppy can be imported into the UK. The Government has been urged to increase the minimum age from 15 weeks to six months, and ministers have confirmed they are “developing a range of options”. A Defra spokesman said: “Now we have left the EU, we have the opportunity to look at even tighter measures to tackle puppy smuggling.”
The Dogs Trust argues bold action is needed to crack down on cruel puppy smuggling. It has published research based on a survey of 2,000 people which found three in 10 respondents would be willing to buy a puppy even if they thought it may have been illegally smuggled into the country.
Paula Boydon, the veterinary director of the Dogs Trust, said: “Every year thousands of puppies are smuggled across Central and Eastern Europe to be mis-sold to UK dog lovers.Many suffer significant health problems and/or lifelong behavioural challenges as a result, and some may not survive.
“Now the Brexit transition period has ended, it is entirely in the hands of Government to change the UK pet travel legislation and end the suffering of these dogs. Pups are continuing to pay for every day of delay.
“[We are] is calling on Government to urgently raise the minimum age for puppies to be imported into the UK to six months to help make them less desirable, and to bring in tougher penalties for deceitful sellers to deter them from smuggling pups.”
Ceredigion MP Ben Lake, who has taken up the issue in Parliament, said: “Unfortunately, there are still too many terrible examples of puppies suffering horrendous conditions as they’re smuggled to the UK.
“Current legislation is not fit for purpose. By raising the minimum age for puppies to be imported into the UK from the current 15 weeks to a minimum of six months, the UK Government would boost efforts to tackle this illegal trade.”
Defra minister Victoria Prentis said: “Now that the transition period has ended, we have the opportunity to manage our own rules applying to pet travel movements into Great Britain.
We are listening to the concerns of stakeholders around future requirements and the Government is developing a range of options to ensure there are robust controls on disease and animal welfare while allowing pet owners to continue to be able to travel with the minimum of disruption.”