Pet lovers in are being urged to take extra care if they plan to buy a puppy at this time of the year.
The warning comes from the Dogs Trust, which has not only launched a campaign aimed at curbing illegal puppy smuggling, it has also issued guidelines offering advice to the public.
“With only weeks to go until Christmas, we are urging people not to fuel a cruel puppy trade, albeit unintentionally,by purchasing an illegally imported puppy,” said Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director of Dogs Trust.
The warning comes after record number of puppies were seized in just one week during a covert operation at the UK border, with many more expected to be smuggled into the country undetected as devious importers hone in on the Christmas trade.
“As the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, we exposed the horrors of the illegal importation of puppies earlier this year, as the demand for in-trend breeds such as French Bulldogs and Pugs continues to help fuel this sickening trade.
“We’ve seen cases of bitches being smuggled across pregnant as importers find sinister new ways to get them through the border undetected.
“Despite many people’s purchases being well-intended, unbeknown to them, the internet has become a thriving marketplace for advertising illegally imported puppies.
“As a result we’ve produced some buyer advice to help people make sensible choices, and avoid being tricked into buying puppies which have been illegally imported from central and Eastern Europe.
“Illegally importing puppies needs to end now. We urge the Government to improve this failing legislation.
“This includes increasing penalties for those illegally importing puppies and a significant overhaul of the pet checking system at ports.
“Members of the public can support our campaign by visiting www.puppysmuggling.org.uk.”