Puppy smuggling from overseas on rise in Norfolk
- Credit: Beth Walsh photography
Norfolk has seen an increase in the number of adverts for dog breeds which are being smuggled into the UK, a dog welfare charity has warned.
Dogs Trust is demanding that the government acts now to end the puppy smuggling trade, as demand for dogs continues to soar.
In Norfolk in February 2021, there was an 18pc increase in the number of adverts for the top five breeds of puppies - commonly seen in the Dogs Trust Puppy Pilot - compared to the same period last year.
The Puppy Pilot scheme was originally set up in 2015 to aid the interception of illegally imported puppies by APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) at the ports and provide care and rehabilitation for them prior to finding them new homes.
The most common breed to be intercepted and cared for through the scheme has been the Dachshund, with around 425 puppies being rehomed since 2015.
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French and English Bulldogs were also high up on the list.
The puppies that were seized at the border and went into quarantine primarily came from Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
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Since the rescue scheme began in late 2015, the street value of the puppies intercepted is more than £3 million
Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director at Dogs Trust, said: “The 1,500th puppy rehomed through the Puppy Pilot is a bittersweet milestone for us to reach.
“The scheme was originally set up on a trial basis in 2015, because there were not sufficient resources to care for the puppies being seized at the border.
“Five years on the need for our services is greater than ever as the demand for dogs during lockdown has further exacerbated the problem and, unfortunately, we know that the dogs we care for are just a small proportion of those that make it into the country illegally.
“Now that the UK has left the EU, there has never been a better time for the government to 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, with paltry penalties that are no deterrent.”