Last week Channel 4 Dispatches programme highlighted the importation of puppies from Eastern Europe offered for sale by adverts placed on Internet free ads site, dealers or in pet shops. I am pleased this was highlighted by the media; it was an issue that concerned me when I visited various London pet shops exactly one year ago and later heard that one had started to import puppies.
Aardvark Kennels (misleading as is a high street shop) was highlighted on this programme for taking a delivery, under darkness, of puppies from a van parked outside their premises. For anyone that did not see the programme there were 42 puppies of various pedigree breeds that had travelled by road for at least 22 hours from Slovakia in the back of a van before arriving in a UK port. Then transported to London and delivered to the pet shop highlighted in the programme and possibly elsewhere.
Anyone transporting puppies, dogs or cats by road over 8 hours as an economic activity must be in possession of Authorisation 2 under the EU legislation the Welfare of Animals Transport Order 2006. The vehicle must adequately ventilated; the crates carrying the puppies must be secured to the vehicle and of the correct size. The puppies delivered to Aardvark Kennels were in loose unsecured cages and overcrowded. The transporter must also adhere to a route plan with adequate stops en-route to feed and water the puppies and be competent in animal welfare.
Each puppy must be accompanied by their own Passport, microchiped prior to its vaccination against rabies, which is usually administered at 12 weeks of age, unless the vaccine manufacturers stipulates differently. The puppy must be treated against the Echinococcus worm prior to travel to the UK plus the normal worming and vaccination treatments. The puppy must be inspected by a vet in its country of origin as fit to travel and cannot travel until 21days starting from the FIRST day after the last rabies vaccine is administered. They must also be accompanied by an INTRA Trade Animal Health Certificate. Anyone transporting consignments of puppies should notify the local AHVLA DEFRA office at the destination of the premises the puppies are to be delivered to at least 24 hours before arrival and, if a certificate is required, it should be entered into the TRACES system. Therefore it is exceedingly important that anyone transporting puppies to the UK as part of an economic activity is compliant with the current EU legislation.Most imported puppies should not be arriving in the UK until at least 15 plus weeks of age. Unfortunately it is known that some puppies arriving from Eastern Europe and offered for sale are having their vaccinations too early and arriving with falsified documentation.
It is inadvisable when considering purchasing a puppy to buy fom a pet shop, a dealer because they purchase puppies to resell from battery dog farmers. Interernet free ad sites are used frequently by unscrupulous people including dealers and puppy farmers who wish to sell puppies without any thought as to where or how the puppy they are selling is bred or sold to providing they make money easy on the sale.
For example puppies sold in a pet shop bred in Eastern Europe can be purchased very cheaply by the person offering the puppy for sale at an inflated price making the seller a large profit and you the purchaser a hefty veterinary bill or even worse if the puppy was imported illegally. The purchaser will have no accurate knowledge (even though there is an address of the breeder in the Pets Passport) as to the reputation of the breeder whether the dam and sire of the puppy is of good health, free from hereditary disease or how many litters of puppies she has bred. There will be no information as the condition at the breeding premises or what standards the breeder sets for their dog breeding business.
According to Defra the premises of origin (meaning where the puppy is bred) must be registered in accordance with article 4 of Directive 92/65/EEC if imported for example from an Eastern European country into the UK. Do you think the puppies for sale in our pet shops and by dealers are from registered premises? Personally I doubt it; I await confirmation from Newham Council who are responsible for licensing Aardvark Kennels for their response.
The relaxation of quarantine rules has allowed dealers and pet shops to exploit the ease of access of puppies bred in Eastern Europe, they are cheap to purchase and easily available. The sellers are not interested if the puppies cannot be offered for sale until after 15 weeks of age and are deprived of their early socialization (most important time is 6 to 14 weeks) when they are offered for sale to the public. They disregard the fact that many puppies are still waiting to be sold at 6 to 8 months of age! This is unacceptable, yet Councils fail to place restrictions on a holder of a pet shop licence.
Who do we blame? Defra for not listening to animal welfarists who warned that due to the laxing of quarantine there would be an influx of puppies into the UK from Eastern Europe sold by dealers and pet shops? Councils such as Newham who have not and could place extra conditions on their pet shop premises when granting and renewing a pet shop licence thus restricting the sale of puppies from Eastern Europe due to welfare concerns?
It is not too late for Defra and Councils faced with this situation to act. Puppies should never be sold by dealers and pet shops regardless of where they are bred in the UK the Irish Republic or imported from Eastern Europe.
If you are concerned then please write to your MP, Defra and Newham Council.
The advice is always the same if you cannot see the premises where the puppy is bred with the puppy interacting with its mother then walk away. It is so simple.