Crackdown on puppy smuggling can’t come soon enough as imports surge in 2021

New Government figures have revealed a 75% increase in the number of dogs being commercially imported into the UK, prompting the RSPCA to urge quick action to crackdown on puppy smuggling.

This week, the Government released (in response to a question to Defra) its figures revealing the number of dogs imported commercially between January and August 2020, 31,138, jumped by 75% to 54,615 between January and August 2021.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “We saw a big rise last year, with the number of dogs imported for commercial reasons jumping by 52% from 2019 to 2020 as the demand for dogs surged during lockdown. Now, as many people remain working at home, the demand for dogs has continued and we’ve seen another big spike in commercial imports.

“What’s particularly concerning is that these figures only account for the number of dogs being brought into the UK legally; this is probably just the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that there are likely tens of thousands more puppies who are being smuggled into the UK to be sold on the black market.

“This is why we’re welcoming the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which has pledged to crackdown on puppy imports, and we’d urge them to bring in new regulations and tougher enforcement as quickly as possible. There are dogs and puppies suffering right now and we want to help them.”

Following the RSPCA’s #ForPupsSake campaign, the Government outlined plans to increase the age puppies can be imported from 15 to 24 weeks, block the importation of dogs with cropped ears and docked tails, and block the importation of heavily pregnant bitches.

The stats show that the number of dogs being commercially imported rocketed in April to 8,411 (compared to 1,399 in January).

Buying a puppy

The RSPCA urges anyone thinking of getting a puppy to first do lots of research and make sure they have the time and finances to commit to a dog for the rest of their lives. We’d also encourage families to consider adopting instead of buying a puppy.

Anyone who wants to buy a puppy should use The Puppy Contract to help them find a breeder and guide them through the questions to ask and the warning signs to look out for. Be sure to visit the puppy multiple times and see him interacting with his mum. Never feel pressured into buying a puppy, don’t pay in cash and never agree to meet someone at a service station or by the side of the road.

If you have any concerns about a seller or the puppies you should walk away and contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999, police on 101 or your local Trading Standards team.

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.