As a devoted dog owner myself, I can assure you I, and my fellow Ministers, are very much committed to cracking down on the abhorrent practices of puppy smuggling and importing of young or heavily pregnant dogs, as well as dogs with mutilations, such as cropped ears or docked tails. Applying strengthened penalties will send a clear message that such animal cruelty will not be tolerated and will enable our courts to take a firmer approach to cases where pets are illegally imported.
I understand that the Government plans to take forward legislative measures to tackle puppy smuggling as soon as parliamentary time allows.
The UK has one of the most rigorous pet travel border checking regimes in the world and I am aware that every dog travelling into Great Britain on approved routes has its microchip and paperwork checked to make sure they are all properly vaccinated and are old enough to travel.
In addition, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) consulted on proposed changes to the commercial and non-commercial movements of pets into Great Britain. Defra has been carefully reviewing feedback from this consultation, and I look forward to reading a summary in due course.
Further, Ministers have taken action to tackle the practice of puppy farming. Following the introduction of Lucy’s Law in 2020, everyone must now buy directly from breeders or consider adopting from rescue centres, which is a major step in stopping the illegal pet trade. If an individual sells puppies or kittens without a licence, they could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months.
I will follow this issue closely and keep constituents updated.