Yesterday saw an interesting debate in Westminster on puppy smuggling. It was brought by Nigel Huddleston MP and attracted several contibutions from MPs of all parties. It was good to see that some contributors appeared well informed and aware of the issues, including the research that’s been undertaken into this part of the puppy industry by Dogs Trust.
Allocation of resources to tackle this and effective enforcement was mentioned by several MPs. This is key to making any real changes for dogs and is always our concern. Calls for on-the-spot fines for smugglers were made including them being punitive enough to be a deterrent.
The role of social media got mentioned and the need for more public education.
We need to get a message across to the public. I highlighted a statistic in my intervention earlier. It is also the case that one in five people spend no time at all researching the origin of the puppy they buy, having seen it on Instagram or another social media platform. Some pups are purchased in 20 minutes or less. How on earth can someone ascertain the origin of a puppy on that basis? Statistics also show that almost one in six puppies purchased in 20 minutes or less experience illness or ongoing veterinary treatment.
~ Rachel Maclean
It was good to see recognition of the need to consider puppy smuggling as part of the whole, growing and out-of-control industry. Several references to the scale of it were made and infiltration from criminals:
Disturbingly, puppies are the third most valuable illegally traded commodity in the EU after drugs and arms. That should give us pause for thought. It is increasingly important that we work with our European partners to prevent the illegal trade in puppies.
~ Patricia Gibson
Calls for banning the third party sale of puppies were numerous along with recognition that this is something that must brought in with due care to unintended consequences.
We must seek to avoid the unintended consequences that further regulation could bring, such as encouraging an underground market
~ Nigel Huddleston
The legislation must also be drafted properly. We heard of the damaging changes to the pet travel scheme in 2012 that resulted in an influx of puppies being illegally imported into the UK for sale from central and eastern Europe, as well as Ireland, as corrupt breeders abused the system. Such mistakes must not be inadvertently compounded; they must be comprehensively addressed.
~ Patricia Gibson