Almost a third of puppy buyers are willing to ‘turn a blind eye’ to cruel smuggling

New research from Dogs Trust reveals that almost a third of people would be willing to buy a puppy even if they thought there was a chance it had been illegally smuggled into the UK.

Every year thousands of puppies are smuggled across Central and Eastern Europe to be mis-sold to UK dog lovers.

Many suffer significant health problems and/or lifelong behavioural challenges as a result, and some may not survive.

Dogs Trust polled 2,000 people in the UK who had either bought a puppy or are looking to buy one in the future with 30% admitting that they would buy a puppy even if they thought it might have been illegally smuggled into the country.

The poll also found that 44% said they would be willing to buy a puppy from an online advert despite 41% saying they knew someone who had a bad experience or had been scammed.

A new report ‘Puppy Smuggling: Puppies still paying as Government delays’, which has been sent to MPs today, looked at adverts for dogs on four of the largest classified websites. Of 502 ads examined over six weeks in England and Scotland, 91 pups were found to be imported (18%). Sixteen of these were too young to have been brought in legally, and Dogs Trust believes that was the case for many others too.

The youngest was just seven weeks when it entered Great Britain, too young to even leave its mum. To legally travel to Great Britain from countries within the EU, a puppy must be a minimum of 15 weeks old.

Picture credit Beth Walsh

Dogs Trust Veterinary Director Paula Boyden said: “For more than six years Dogs Trust has been exposing the abuses of pet travel legislation by puppy smugglers, but our concerns have so far gone unanswered. The findings of our latest research demonstrate that it’s more important than ever that the Government takes action to stop the suffering of puppies at the hands of cruel traders. Pups continue to pay for every day of Government delay.

“With the end of the Brexit transition period fast approaching, we are calling on the Government to urgently raise the minimum age for puppies to be imported into the UK to six months to help make them less desirable. We also want to see tougher penalties for smugglers, as only a handful of cases have ever led to a prosecution.

“We want people to understand that buying an illegally imported puppy has huge implications for both the pups – who have to travel miles across borders in awful conditions – and the mums who are basically breeding machines. Too many would-be dog owners simply do not pay attention where their puppy comes from, and this must stop.

“We’re urging people to be patient, do their research and take measures not to buy into this cruel industry which results in horrendous suffering to the dogs involved.”

Dogs Trust has highlighted some of the dangers of puppy smuggling in a new animation, ‘A Christmas Tale’. It shows the journey of a puppy who has been bought online, to be delivered in time for Christmas, but all is not as it seems. The underaged puppy has in fact been smuggled into the country, his mum left behind to continue a cruel life as a breeding machine.

To find out more about Dogs Trust’s puppy smuggling work please visit: