Crackdown on puppy smuggling announced with new Bill

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puppy smuggling

Just ahead of the recent debate to ban exploitative puppy imports, as well as the imports of dogs with cropped ears, today (8 June) the government has announced a new Bill to crack down on puppy smuggling, live exports of livestock, and more as part of its Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill aims to:

  • Crack down on puppy smuggling
  • Ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening
  • Ban keeping primates as pets
  • Introduce more measures against livestock worrying
  • Improve zoo regulations

The Bill’s proposed action to crack down on puppy smuggling includes reducing the number of pets that can travel under pet travel rules, as well as including powers to restrict the movement of pets on welfare grounds, for example by “increasing the minimum age of imported puppies and restricting the import of pregnant dogs”.

Befa the smuggled puppy
Image by Beth Walsh

Dogs Trust has been calling to increase the minimum age to allow pups to travel for years. Chief Executive Owen Sharp said, “We are thrilled to see the commitments being made by the Government in the Kept Animals Bill and are hopeful for the impact the bill could make to dog welfare.

“We are particularly encouraged by the measures set out to crack down on puppy smuggling, an issue we have been campaigning on for over six years. We have seen firsthand the devastating impact of this cruel trade, having rescued over 1.5 thousand illegally imported puppies, who have had the most traumatic start to their young lives and have come into our care in horrific conditions.

“We will continue to work closely with the Government to be the voice for dogs and ensure all proposed legislation involving dogs effects real change.”

petition against cropped ears
Staffordshire bull terrier Rocky’s owner was prosecuted for removing his ears with knife

The Bill also proposes an ban on the import of dogs with cropped ears, in a victory for the #FlopNotCrop campaign started by Jordan Shelley, Director at The Foal Group (Focus On Animal Law). While ear cropping is illegal in much of Europe as well as the UK, the procedure can still be carried out in countries that still allow it – or illegally in the UK, behind the smokescreen of legal imports.

“It seems simple logic to me, really,” Jordan told Dogs Today when the campaign launched. “Ear cropping was deemed cruel and outlawed well over a century ago; it follows that purposely looking to buy a cropped puppy should be outlawed as well. If the procedure is unacceptable in this country, paying for a puppy who had to endure it elsewhere should be just as unacceptable.

“We cannot stop cropped dogs from showing up on social media profiles from other countries, but we can and should at least stop their use in our advertising. That look is the result of a procedure that is illegal for good reason, and cruelty should never be normalised.”

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