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Pet travel
Charity calls for action on ‘the puppy smuggling scandal’

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THE illegal trade in puppies being brought to the UK can no longer be dismissed as anecdotal or small scale and nor can the forthcoming changes to the Pet Travel Scheme be regarded as a solution to the problem, according to the canine charity Dogs Trust. It is calling on the Government to make existing pet travel checks more robust, to encourage cross-agency working and to introduce penalties to deter those caught bringing puppies into the UK illegally.

In a report that it describes as ‘critical reading for Defra, APHA, Trading Standards, Eurotunnel, the ferry companies and veterinary authorities, as well as for the European Commission’, the charity discusses the results of a six-month investigation it carried out into the illegal entry of dogs into Great Britain under the non-commercial Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). It says it was asked by Nigel Gibbens, the UK's Chief Veterinary Officer, for evidence to support its concerns about the unintended consequences of the changes to the PETS that took effect in January 2012, and harmonised pet travel rules across Europe. ‘After an in-depth six-month investigation we have this and, depressingly, we didn't have to look very hard to find it,’ says Adrian Burder, Dogs Trust's chief executive, in a foreword to the report.

Much of the research focused on Lithuania and Hungary, with Dogs Trust noting that, between 2011 and 2013, there was a 780 per cent increase in the number of dogs from Lithuania travelling under the PETS …

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