Dog charity report reveals shocking puppy smuggling conditions

French Bulldogs seized from illegal smugglers at the UK border, held in quarantine and cared for by

French Bulldogs seized from illegal smugglers at the UK border, held in quarantine and cared for by Dogs Trust. PHOTO: Beth Walsh Photography. - Credit: Beth Walsh

An animal charity is calling on the government to take urgent action to stop the illegal importation of puppies into the UK as Brexit approaches.

This follows an undercover investigation, exposing the magnitude and ease of trade routes into the UK for European smugglers.

Dogs Trust, which has a base at Snetterton in Norfolk, has released its fourth report into the illegal trade in order to highlight the significant opportunity the government has to redraw the UK’s pet travel rules, currently regulated by EU legislation, and end the trade.

The charity says it has uncovered a network of corrupt breeders, dealers, and vets, who openly admit to breaking the law to deceitfully export puppies.

The report also reveals the ways in which puppies are smuggled into the UK. Findings include puppies sedated in cramped conditions and forced into 30-hour journeys over 1,000 miles with little water and no toilet breaks, found hidden amongst their own faeces.

It also found heavily pregnant bitches caged in bad conditions and forced to travel gruelling journeys to allow for the puppies to be born in the UK, as young, ‘UK born’ puppies amount to quicker sales.

One Hungarian dealer explained that around 400 puppies are exported each week from his hometown, or 20,000 puppies a year.

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Dogs Trust Snetterton’s rehoming centre manager Diane McLelland-Taylor said: “Our investigations have revealed shocking welfare conditions. There is no regard for the lives of these vulnerable puppies.

“Puppy smugglers are only concerned with making a profit, and the UK provides an attractive market because the high demand for fashionable breeds converts into fast internet sales.

“With Brexit around the corner this is an opportunity of a lifetime to put robust measures in place that protect dogs and the public. We urge the government to take forward our clear recommendations to overhaul our pet travel legislation and increase the penalties for those caught fuelling this despicable trade.”

Dogs Trust is asking members of the public to contact their MP via the Dogs Trust website to help put an end to the cruel puppy smuggling trade. To find out more, visit