Thank you to all those who contacted me about puppy smuggling.
I am committed to promoting the highest level of care for pets and my sympathies go out to anyone who sadly has been affected by puppy farming and smuggling. These practices are cruel and must stop, and I therefore support taking increased measures to tackle puppy smuggling.
Every year, thousands of puppies are illegally imported into the UK to be sold via online adverts to unsuspecting dog lovers, having been transported thousands of miles across Europe with little or no food, water or exercise. I am concerned there is widespread abuse of the pet travel scheme, where animals are smuggled illegally, often underage, unvaccinated and in poor welfare conditions.
It is extremely disappointing that the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was dropped. This decision is not what the public, our dedicated animal welfare charities or I want. It represents a profound setback for animal welfare in the UK, with innocent animals suffering the consequences.
This legislation would have given the Government powers to make new regulations about the importation of dogs, cats and ferrets into Great Britain. The Government states it will take forward the Bill’s contents as single-issue pieces of legislation, which will likely further delay protections from becoming law. As of December 2023, no legislation regarding puppy smuggling has yet been published.
I want to see action to protect dogs from abhorrent criminal activities such as puppy smuggling and ear cropping. I believe there should be strict limits on the number of animals being brought into the country in non-commercial vehicles as well as a six-month age limit for those being imported. The Opposition has previously tabled amendments on both subjects but disappointingly the Government voted them down.
In my view, we must also increase minimum penalties for those who illegally import dogs.
In 2021, the Government held a consultation on proposals to increase the minimum import age for dogs, to ban the movement of dogs who have been subjected to mutilations, and to ban the movement of dogs more than 42 days pregnant. It is analysing feedback to this consultation.