Almost a third of puppy purchasers would be willing to “turn a blind eye” to the smuggling trade to get the dog they want, a report by Dogs Trust has found.
According to consumer research conducted by the charity 30% of people have admitted that they would be willing to buy a puppy even if they thought it might have been illegally smuggled.
In addition 44% said they would be willing to buy a puppy from an online advert despite if they knew someone who had a bad experience or had been scammed.
Dogs Trust said the illegal trade has a significant effect on animal welfare, with many dogs facing “lifelong behavioural challenges as a result” and many not surviving into adulthood.
To clamp down on the practice the charity is calling for “urgent government action” to raise the minimum age for puppies to enter the UK to six months and to increase penalties for smugglers.
Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust said: “For more than six years Dogs Trust has been exposing the abuses of pet travel legislation by puppy smugglers, but our concerns have so far gone unanswered.
“The findings of our latest research demonstrate that it’s more important than ever that the Government takes action to stop the suffering of puppies at the hands of cruel traders. Pups continue to pay for every day of government delay.
She added: “With the end of the Brexit transition period fast approaching, we are calling on the government to urgently raise the minimum age for puppies to be imported into the UK to six months to help make them less desirable. We also want to see tougher penalties for smugglers, as only a handful of cases have ever led to a prosecution.
“We want people to understand that buying an illegally imported puppy has huge implications for both the pups – who have to travel miles across borders in awful conditions – and the mums who are basically breeding machines.”