The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has renewed its calls for tighter restrictions on pet travel following the government’s response to the Efra Select Committee report on illegal puppy smuggling.
The Efra Committee praised the government’s ‘Petfished’ awareness campaign but raised concerns that some of the regulatory and delivery recommendations had not been taken on board by the government.
A specific recommendation, made by the BVA to the inquiry, called for the minimum age that puppies can travel to the UK to be increased from the current 15 weeks.
This would reduce the likelihood of puppies being brought to the UK using pet travel rules with the intention to sell them, as they would no longer enter the country at a saleable age.
In response, Lord Goldsmith said that the government had “no immediate plans” to change pet travel arrangements.
BVA president Daniella Dos Santos, who gave evidence to the committee, said: “This is such a missed opportunity for meaningful action to clamp down illegal puppy smuggling and improve disease controls.
“It’s far too easy for organised criminals to bring puppies into the UK for sale by abusing the current pet travel controls. EU Exit has provided an opportunity to strengthen our rules and only allow puppies to enter the UK at an age where they can no longer be advertised as cute puppies.”
She added: “It’s deeply disappointing that Defra isn’t considering taking this action. Vets see the heartache that can result from poorly bred and badly socialised puppies being illegally imported and sold to unsuspecting families.
“Awareness campaigns are important and useful but we also need strong regulatory measures that will stop the problem coming into the country. We’re appealing to the Government to look again at the evidence.”