Curbing puppy importations into the UK

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Lord Goldsmith the environment minister

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, the environment minister of the UK government, has indicated that they’re going to make changes to the law to raise the minimum age at which dogs can be brought into Britain (to six months) and to reduce the number of dogs that a person can bring into Britain from the current five. The goal: to curb commericial imports of puppies.

Lord Goldsmith the environment minister

Lord Goldsmith the environment minister. Photo: TIMES PHOTOGRAPHER JACK HILL. I plead fair use of this photo as I am using it for educational purposes.

There has been animal welfare abuse from European importers of puppies into the UK. Paula Boyden, the veterinary director of the Dogs Trust speaking at a Parliamentary enquiry into puppy smuggling told a story about an incident reported to the trust in which 5 Polish people arrived at a port in November in 3 vehicles with 25 puppies. All the puppies were of desirable dog breeds and therefore of high value. The people involved would declare that they owned the dogs because they’re allowed to own 5 each. She was implying that this was a clear scam but entirely legal under the current law.

Puppy smugglers are bringing in animals under the Pet Travel Scheme and a record number of health certificates for commercial animal imports have been issued in recent months.

There’s been a rise in demand for puppies, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. Between March and the end of September 2020, during the pandemic lockdowns, the Dogs Trust rescued 140 puppies illegally imported from continental Europe.

In addition, 14 pregnant bitches were also rescued and they gave birth to 56 puppies which the trust estimated had a value of £115,000 to the smugglers. Once the bitches had given birth in the UK they were then taken back to their original country to be bred from again with (it is reported by The Times) puppies being delivered by cesarean section while the original stitches from the previous cesarean section were in place.

Comment: clearly a change needs to be made in the interests of animal welfare in general and dog welfare in particular. Lord Goldsmith failed to become an MP at the last election and sits in the House of Lords. He is a close friend of Carrie Symonds, the Prime Minister’s fiancée. I’m sure that she is working with Lord Goldsmith on this change in the law, who was the former MP for Richmond.

Flat-faced bulldogs with inherent health issues are a current favourite. You don’t have to read the newspapers to see this. When I walk in Richmond Park I see a lot of puppies and a reasonable percentage of them are French bulldogs or similar flat-faced dogs. This is a great shame because it’s an added negative issue with respect to dog welfare. Not only are the dogs being abused when being imported but they are abused when being bred because they inherit genetic illnesses such as breathing problems.