Scottish Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith MEP has highlighted the serious health risks brought by puppy smugglers bringing pets into the UK in the run up to Christmas.
Puppies as young as six weeks old with false passports and fake vaccination stickers for rabies are being sold for hundreds of pounds on internet sites. The animals are then crammed into a suitcase and driven thousands of miles to the UK, according to a recent report by Dogs Trust.
Changes to the EU pet travel scheme - which come into force today - will allow border agencies to set penalties for smugglers.
Commenting, SNP MEP Alyn Smith said: “Currently, there are no penalties for commercial dealers who declare up to five puppies whose paperwork may be checked while an undisclosed number of animals are hidden in the back of the vehicle.
“Changes in EU legislation at the end of December will allow border agencies to set penalties for smugglers as a deterrent to the current lucrative market of smuggling unvaccinated puppies into the country.
“This is welcome – and hopefully the enforcement of this legislation will enable action on this issue. As an animal lover and honorary Vice President of the Scottish SPCA, I find it abhorrent that puppies are being snatched from their mothers at six weeks, crushed into a suitcase and transported thousands of miles away.
“But I am even more concerned that these puppies are being taken here on false passports and without their vaccinations.”
SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson added: ”Quarantine periods exist for a reason, and some people appear to have forgotten that rabies can be fatal for humans.
“If you or anyone you know is considering adding a pet to the family, I would urge people to ensure they check the breeder’s background, examine the puppy’s health and make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date. Or even better, adopt a dog from your local shelter – they’ve been checked by vets and are desperate for a loving home.
“Remember, puppies aren’t just for Christmas. They’re hard work but, as any dog owner can tell you, they’re worth it.”
Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden agreed, stating: “Now is the time for both the UK government and the European Commission to sit up, listen and act. We have provided the evidence of this illegal trade and our investigation clearly illustrates that something needs to be done urgently to ensure EU legislation is enforced.”