Shocking case of four-week-old puppies with umbilical cords still attached being subjected to a 30-hour journey
- Puppies sedated to smuggle them across the border without any documentation
- One group of puppies transported in a basket covered in cling film with just one tiny hole for them to breathe through
- Limited visual checks allowed fake dog to be smuggled across the border twice
- 82% of puppies intercepted at the border are popular breeds such as Pugs and French Bulldogs
Dogs Trust, the founding member of the EU Dog & Cat Alliance, yesterday launched a report highlighting the horrific abuses of the EU Pet Travel Scheme leading to the illegal importation of puppies into the United Kingdom, after an undercover investigation discovered smugglers across Central and Eastern Europe continuing to abuse the system.
Undercover footage revealed 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.
In another shocking case, puppies were observed vomiting and another eating their own faeces during a journey in a packed mini-van from Lithuania. Confined to pet carriers stacked amongst other packages in the back of the van with no air conditioning, and outside temperatures of 25 degrees, the puppies were given water just twice and not fed at all.
Vets in Poland and Lithuania were also filmed falsifying pet passports and faking rabies vaccination records, enabling underage puppies to slip through the net without the correct paperwork as part of the third undercover investigation by Dogs Trust.
Simona Lipstaite, European Policy Advisor for the EU Dog & Cat Alliance, said:
“These shocking cases clearly show that urgent action is needed to stop the illegal intra-European trade in companion animals. Most EU Member States are either source or destination countries for illegally bred pets. Networks of unscrupulous breeders, vets, transporters and sellers are able to successfully abuse the EU pet travel rules and discrepancies in prices across the continent to make hefty profits from this lucrative trade at considerable cost to national economies.”
Puppies are bred in large numbers, often in horrific conditions in Central and Eastern Europe by corrupt breeders who are continuing to exploit the demand for these desirable breeds in the United Kingdom and other countries. They are brought into these countries illegally at a young age in order to appear ‘cuter’ to buyers, with desirable breeds such as Pugs, Dachshunds, English and French Bulldogs making up 82% of those intercepted at the UK border.
In 2016 alone, 275,876 dogs travelled to Great Britain on the Pet Travel Scheme; a non-commercial system allowing animals to travel easily between EU Member States without undergoing quarantine. The highest number of puppies intercepted arrived from Hungary, Poland and Lithuania with Latvia, Slovakia and Romania also predominant. Of the puppies seized, more than 95% of puppies rescued by Dogs Trust were deemed too young to travel and 6% sadly died due to poor health, malnutrition and dehydration.
Ms Lipstaite continues:
“We are calling for EU action in addressing this illegal trade. Member States alone cannot tackle the problem as it springs from abusing EU legislation. A proactive solution would be to have a comprehensive, coordinated approach, led by the European Commission and involving EU institutions, customs and border officials, local authorities, veterinarians and civil society organisations working together to protect animal welfare, public health and consumer rights of the Union’s citizens.“
Dogs Trust has released an animation to highlight the plight of a smuggled puppy, Charly, as he undertakes the perilous journey to Great Britain. To watch and share the animation, as well as emailing your MEP to support the EU Dog & Cat Alliance’s campaign to help transform the lives of illegally imported puppies, visit www.puppysmuggling.org.uk.