On Wednesday 1st November, I led a parliamentary debate on puppy smuggling.
Puppy smuggling is an underground industry believed to be worth around £100 million per year. Britain is a particularly attractive target for puppy smugglers because of the relatively high prices people are willing to pay for popular breeds – in some cases up to £1,500 each. Hundreds of puppies are intercepted at the UK border each year but that is just the tip of the iceberg and thousands more must be passing through undetected.
The entry of dogs into the UK is governed by the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) and among the policy changes suggested in my speech was for Government agencies to enforce PETS more effectively, with a full presence outside of office hours. I also called for the introduction of mandatory visual checks, an on the spot fine and increasing the minimum age of entry to six months.
During the debate, Members from right across the House contributed to share their experiences and pledge their support for further changes being enacted by the Government. Many MPs joined me in expressing concern that puppy smuggling is motivated purely by money, and one Member claimed that the illegal puppy trade is the third largest illegal trade in Europe after drugs and arms smuggling.
I was delighted to lead this debate and raise awareness about this vile trade. I called this debate because I know that it is an issue of great concern to my constituents and through my conversations with the Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs Home and other animal welfare organisations, I have gained an insight into just how large a scale this illegal industry is. I was also fortunate to visit the Dogs Trust rescue and rehoming centre in my constituency earlier this year, which has recently been rebuilt and is one of the largest centres of its kind in the country.
I was grateful for the Minister’s response and am encouraged at his acknowledgement that this is an abhorrent practice. I was also pleased to hear his affirmation that our departure from the European Union represents an opportunity to look at this issue afresh, and that we will be able to consider introducing more checks or even increased restrictions on specific countries with particularly lax regulations. While there is certainly action that the Government can take, we all have a part to play in tackling puppy smuggling. I hope that by holding this debate, it has raised awareness among British consumers about what they need to look out for when buying a puppy and what questions they should ask.
You can watch the full debate here: https://goo.gl/BRicfQ