The illegal smuggling of puppies has seen a surge in the run up to Christmas.
Nearly 100 puppies were seized in just one week during a covert operation at the UK border by Dogs Trust as devious breeders and sellers hone in on the Christmas trade.
The charity believes this is only a small amount of the number being bought in under-the-radar.
Dogs Trust has released new advice for anyone considering buying a puppy to make sensible choices, and avoid being tricked into buying one which may have been smuggled.
Since 2014, the charity has been exposing illegally smuggled puppies, as the demand for desirable and in-trend breeds such as French Bulldog puppies, English Bulldog puppies, Chow Chow puppies and Daschund puppies shows no sign of slowing down, and continues to help to fuel this trade.
In a recent poll, only half of respondents said they would be concerned if their most recently bought puppy was imported illegally, with 33 percent saying they would buy a dog from an online classified site or social media.
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.”
Paula continues: “Illegally importing puppies needs to end now. We urge the Government to improve this failing legislation. This includes increasing penalties for those illegally importing puppies and a significant overhaul of the pet checking system at ports.
“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.”