The Illegal Puppy Trade
UPDATE - Watch FOUR PAWS on ITV's Tonight Show Programme looking at the illegal puppy trade - https://www.itv.com/itvplayer/tonight/series-19/episode-26-tonight-the-truth-behind-the-bargain-dog-trade
The growing demand for pure breed puppies in the UK and Western Europe has lead to an increase in the number of puppy farms being set up in Eastern Europe to supply private buyers, pet shops and puppy dealers. This has been driven by the relaxation of rules regarding pet animals coming into the UK.
The demand for cheap puppies is strong, profit margins are extremely high and the risk of being caught is low. Even if an illegal trade is discovered, the fines to be paid by the trader are manageable and the next transportation alone will more than sufficiently cover the losses of the previous.
Many people are interested in pure breed puppies, but they don’t want to pay a lot of money. Most of the puppies from Eastern European Countries are offered cheaply via the internet, with fake information and documents and accompanied by very cute pictures which hide the depressing reality.
In the mass breeding business dogs are generally not housed or treated in a manner adequate to their needs. Nor are the mothers or puppies provided with the medical care they require. Dogs languish under the worst conditions confined in basements, sheds and garages. The puppies and their mothers are kept in small, cramped spaces, with little lighting, no ventilation or heat. The breeding dogs are sometimes chained and are not given any exercise, often underfed and mistreated.
The puppies bred on these illegal farms are likely to travel hundreds of miles, over several days in horrendous conditions and may be suffering from medical conditions. Some simply won’t make it to their destination and will die during the journey. A certain level of illness and death is expected, and even calculated for, in this cold-hearted business. The puppies can end up anywhere in Europe, but some will end up in the UK, to be sold on as cheap ‘homebred’ pedigree dogs.
These so-called “bargains” come attached with a high price. By buying a puppy cheaply the people support a cruel, illegal trade. The breeding dogs are treated appallingly. The puppy that is bought has not been socialized and may suffer from behavioural problems. Removed from their mothers far too early, some as young as four weeks old, the puppies are often sick, because they are not vaccinated, there is no medical care given to them in the beginning of their lives and sometimes they carry genetic diseases, because the breeders do not monitor inbreeding and good lines of breeding. There is also the slim risk that the puppies may carry rabies, if the puppy is identified as illegal the owner may be responsible for paying the quarantine fees.
We always recommend adopting a rescue puppy or a dog rather than buying one. However, if people are determined to buy, we suggest that they always buy from a reputable breeder, that they insist on seeing the mother of the puppies, that they check that the puppy is healthy, has had its injections and is at least eight weeks old before it leaves its mother. We strongly recommend to avoid buying from online classified sites especially from people advertising different breeds of puppies for sale and from pet shops, which may be supplied by puppy farms.