Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service has warned consumers who unwittingly purchase puppies illegally smuggled from abroad that they could face an unexpected bill for more than £1,000 for quarantine fees.
Illegally imported puppies are rarely vaccinated against rabies and must be quarantined if they are discovered. Warwickshire Trading Standards is responsible for preventing the spread of animal diseases, such as rabies.
Officers were recently contacted by a local vet who had been asked to examine a Rottweiler puppy that had fallen ill with dehydration. The vet quickly realised that the puppy had been illegally imported and alerted Trading Standards. The animal (which was too young to enter the country legally), had not been vaccinated against rabies.
The owner of the puppy had purchased the animal in good faith, believing that it had been imported correctly after seeing an Internet advert. The owner had been given incomplete documents. The puppy must now be placed in quarantine and the owner will have to foot the bill.
Warwickshire County Councillor John Horner, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “Smugglers sometimes use false documents to convince prospective buyers that puppies have been imported legally whilst others claim that the smuggled puppies have been bred in the UK.
“Smuggled puppies have rarely been vaccinated against rabies and pose a serious public health risk as well as endangering our own pets and the wildlife of Warwickshire.”
Warwickshire County Councillor Philip Johnson, Chair of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, added: “Warwickshire consumers wishing to buy a puppy are strongly advised to follow Trading Standards advice and report suspicious sellers on 03454 040506.”
Trading Standards Animal Health Investigations in to the circumstances around the illegal import are ongoing.
Trading Standards Advice to Prospective Buyers:
> Never buy a puppy, unless you have seen it with the dam (mother).
> Check – does the breeder seem to be well established, are you able to speak to their vet, have the puppies begun their other vaccinations, flea and worming treatments (required after 8 weeks), are the puppies being appropriately socialised, is documentation correct and complete?
> If you are interested in buying a puppy with a pedigree, seek advice from organisations such as the Kennel Club.
> Puppies imported in to the UK must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and have an EU pet passport. The animal must be at least 12 weeks old before it is vaccinated and then must wait a further 21 days before entering the UK (the protection does not work until then).
> If you are offered an imported puppy that appears to be younger than 12 weeks, then it is very likely to have been imported illegally.
For more advice visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/buying-a-cat-or-dog
> If you have any concerns about the condition of the animal or the documentation it is being sold with, seek advice from your local vet or contact Warwickshire Trading Standards Animal Health team on via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.
The Citizens Advice Consumer Service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.