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Crackdown on illegal puppy trade: Dogs under six months old will not be allowed to be imported into UK

Written by on 20/08/2021

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

The changes have been sparked by an increase in the illegal trade of dogs under 15 weeks old.

Despite being illegal under the current rules, puppies arriving in Great Britain are often eight weeks old or younger, with 260% of all dogs imported last year being against the law.

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The Animal and Plant Health Agency even regularly sees puppies that are four or five weeks of age imported.

It is a major welfare concern for the country and it is thought the increase has been motivated by consumer demand for young “cute” dogs, which in turn is fuelling the price of puppies.

Raising the minimum age for bringing puppies into the UK aims to ensure they are not separated from their mothers too early, which can put them at a higher risk of developing illness or dying.

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Animal welfare charity RSPCA has been calling for tighter regulations for years.

Head of public affairs at the charity, David Bowles, told Sky News: “By raising the age of puppies to allow them to come into the UK from 15 weeks to six months… it’s vital as they lose their cute factor by 24 weeks.

“The reason why puppy dealers want to import puppies at a young age, is because they look cute, and they know that they can offload those puppies very quickly to unsuspecting consumers.

“So raising the age I think will really help to crack down on the puppy trade.”

As part of the Animal Welfare Bill, the consultation will seek to introduce major reforms to safeguard animals being imported into Great Britain.

The importing of dogs with cropped ears and docked tails could also be banned.

These forms of mutilations have in recent years become a trend reinforced by celebrities.

The British Veterinary Association considers ear cropping “an unnecessary, painful mutilation with no welfare benefit”.

“It’s an illegal procedure in the UK, but unfortunately it’s celebrity-driven,” added Mr Bowles.

“We’ve seen a six-fold increase in the number of dogs coming in with cropped ears in the last five years.”

There is also the suggestion of banning the importing of heavily pregnant dogs.

This has snowballed in popularity with breeders capitalising on demand.

Devious breeders prey on eager dog-lovers like Wendy Jones, who paid nearly £3,000 for an eight-week-old French bulldog, named George.

George the 8-week-old French bulldog
Image: Wendy Jones bought George the eight-week-old French bulldog for nearly £3,000

Despite doing thorough research and visiting the breeder in person, Ms Jones was duped into buying George, who fell desperately ill within days of him coming home.

The vets told her George was deaf, blind, his airways were closing up and due to water in his brain, his body was shutting down and said he was the youngest puppy they had put to sleep.

“It was probably one of the worst things we’ve ever seen and gone through up to that point,” Ms Jones told Sky News.

“I was waking up in the night hearing George crying, even though he wasn’t there.

“But then the anger kicked in. I got extremely angry.

“I just thought at that point I’ve got to find this breeder, I’ve got to find these puppies and I’ve got to make people aware.

“The breeder had turned his phone off, he’d tried to disconnect it. There was no social media platform we could get hold of him on, he just got into the winds.

George the 8-week old French bulldog
Image: George fell desperately ill within days of him arriving at his new home – and was later put to sleep

“We found out afterwards that he was breeding in his garage, the garage was soundproofed and he was actually doing it from his home. I think because the penalties are so low for that at the time, he just didn’t care. It was just very blatant, it was just all about money.”

Members of the public and animal welfare groups are being urged to respond to a government consultation aimed at clamping down on illegal puppy smuggling.

It opens today and if implemented, will halt this dire trade.

 Sky News

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