Posted: Sat 21st Aug 2021

New powers to tackle cruel puppy smuggling move step closer

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Aug 21st, 2021

Dogs under six months old will not be allowed to be imported into Great Britain, under new UK government proposals.

New plans would also see a ban on the import of dogs with cropped ears or docked tails.

The new proposed powers will ban the import of heavily pregnant dogs to help protect puppy and mother welfare, are aimed at safeguarding the welfare of the thousands of puppies and dogs that come into Great Britain from overseas each year.

More than 66,000 dogs were commercially imported into the UK last year according to Animal and Plant Health Agency figures.

However, evidence shows a recent rise in low-welfare imports and smuggling activity, with border authorities seeing around a 260% increase in the number of young puppies being intercepted for not meeting the UK’s pet import rules – from 324 in 2019 to 843 in 2020.

Puppies that are imported too young face a significantly higher risk of developing illnesses or even death, according to the UK government.

Raising the minimum age for bringing puppies in to the UK will therefore ensure that they are not separated from their mothers too early and will allow them to develop further ahead of being taken on potentially long and stressful journeys which can have a lasting impact on their temperament and behaviour.

The RSPCA has also recently reported a 620% rise in reports of dogs found to have had their ears cropped, covering from 2015 to 2020. Ear cropping is a painful process where a dog’s outer ears are surgically altered or removed altogether to make them look more aggressive.

The surgical procedure, which has been illegal in this country since 2006, can hinder their ability to communicate with other dogs and their owners.

The majority of these dogs are suspected to have undergone the procedure overseas and under the new rules set out in the consultation launched today they would be banned from entering the country.

Launching a consultation on the proposals, Animal Welfare Minister (UK gov’t) Lord Zac Goldsmith said:

“Puppy smuggling is a grim trade, and we are determined to clamp down on it.”

“Raising the minimum import age for puppies will help protect thousands of animals that are brought into the country each year and stop criminals looking to profit from the rise in demand for pets.”

“We already have one of the toughest pet travel border checking regimes in the world and as an independent nation outside the EU we are going even further by preventing anyone from bringing in dogs which have undergone inhumane procedures such as ear cropping or tail docking.”

“These new measures build on our plans to raise animal welfare standards across the board as part of our Action Plan for Animal Welfare.”

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said:

“In recent years we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of dogs being commercially imported into the UK as well as the number of dogs being reported for having undergone mutilated procedures such as cropped ears.”

“These are major dog welfare issues that need addressing as a matter of urgency in order to protect dogs from unnecessary suffering and to protect the public from falling victim to criminals who are trying to cash in on these dogs’ value.”

“We’re really pleased that the Government – which pledged to tackle these issues among many others in its Action Plan for Animal Welfare – is launching this consultation and we hope that these new measures will be implemented efficiently so that we can crackdown on the illegal dog trade once and for all.”

Members of the public and industry are being urged to respond to the joint consultation issued by Defra on behalf of the UK Government, the Welsh Government, and the Scottish Government, it can be found here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/pet-travel-and-imports-team/pet-travel/

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