A Norfolk MEP is calling for action to stop the illegal and cruel trade in smuggled puppies in the run up to Christmas. This time of year marks a surge in puppies being illegally imported into Britain from Eastern Europe in time for the Christmas puppy purchase rush.
Alex Mayer, Norfolk Euro MP and a member of the European Parliament's all-party Animal Welfare Group, visited the Dogs Trust centre in Snetterton to meet staff and volunteers and raise awareness of the need to buy puppies from legitimate sources
She said: “I’m leading the fight with the Dogs Trust in Europe for a tougher regime of licensing and registration to try to bring the illegal trade in smuggled puppies to an end."
Ms Mayer and Kate Brewster the Supporter Relations Officer warned that with the Christmas season approaching, some families might look to the internet to purchase a new canine friend but may unwittingly be purchasing smuggled animals from illegal breeders.
Research shows that up to one in five dogs brought in the UK come via a puppy farm and criminals from countries such as Hungary and Lithuania are abusing the EU Pet Travel Scheme to bring large numbers of animals into Britain. Breeders can make upwards of £100,000 a year from the sale of smuggled puppies.
Puppies can be transported long distances in appalling conditions as part of the illegal puppy trade, and miss important vaccinations and treatments. Undercover footage revealed by the Dog's Trust showed a vet in Lithuania selling sedatives to allow puppies to be smuggled across the British border. Puppies as young as four weeks old were also transported with their umbilical cords still attached during a cramped 1,000 mile, 30-hour journey across Europe.
Without the correct health checks in place, there is a risk of infectious diseases including rabies.
Alex Mayer MEP, who has highlighted the need for tougher rules with the European Commission, continued: "If you decide to take on the commitment of a new dog, please make sure you are providing a home for a healthy, happy, legal dog that hasn't been smuggled in by unscrupulous black marketeers."