Illegal puppy trade is reprehensible and gruesome but driven by demand – Green MEP

Responding to the news that the illegal puppy trade, coming through Kent ports, is set to surge in time for Christmas, Keith Taylor MEP, the Green Party’s Animals spokesperson and member of the European Parliament’s Animal Welfare Intergroup, said: 

“The illegal puppy trade is gruesome and reprehensible. It is not an industry, however, that exists in a vacuum – it is driven by demand. With more than 100,000 dogs in rescue centres across the UK looking for a home it is hugely upsetting to see the demand for puppies fuelling such a barbaric criminal enterprise.”

“Puppy smuggling and the illegal puppy trade is big business with dealers getting rich while leaving a trail of dead puppies and heartbroken families. Puppies are being imported by their tens of thousands from EU countries while, at the same time, they are also being bred in the UK both by licensed and unlicensed breeders.”

“The trade, which causes significant suffering to thousands of dogs, needs greater regulation across Europe and I will continue working with groups like the EU Dog and Cat alliance, RSPCA and Dogs Trust to push for a crackdown on the industry – last year’s Green win on harmonizing pet identification and registration standards is just the start.”

“In the meantime, I would urge anybody who is planning to buy a puppy to strictly adhere to the checklist outlined by the Dogs Trust before making a purchase and remember that a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.”

How to avoid purchasing illegal pups, advice from the Dogs Trust:

Meeting your puppy for the first time:

  1. Take a copy of the Puppy contract or the Puppy Plan with you as it gives you guidance on the information your breeder should be giving
  2. Puppies should not leave their mum until they are eight weeks old
  3. Puppies should have clean eyes, ears and bottom. They should be bright and lively, and keen to interact!
  4. Puppies must be microchipped, with the details on that chip registered to the breeder. When you get your new puppy home, the first thing you’ll need to do is update the details on your puppy’s microchip to your contact details. If you and your puppy ever become separated, a microchip is the best way to ensure you can be reunited
  5. Ask about the vaccinations and worming treatments the puppy has had, and make sure you get any paperwork associated with this
  6. Some breeds can be prone to hereditary issues, which the parents should be screened for before breeding. Where you can, you should ask to see a copy of health screening papers of the puppy’s parents which detail any hereditary diseases

What about Mum?

  1. Mum should be over one year old, and usually less than eight years old
  2. By law, she shouldn’t have had more than six litters in her lifetime
  3. Watch how Mum interacts with her puppies. Some sellers use ‘fake’ mums to convince people the puppies were born in that home, when in reality they have been bred in large-scale puppy farms, sometimes in other countries