A litter of underage puppies smuggled into the UK from Eastern Europe were discovered with their UMBILICAL CORDS still attached following a 30 hour journey.
The five pint-sized English Bulldog puppies were just four weeks old when they were seized by officials at Dover – 11 weeks below the legal age for transportation.
Their umbilical cords were attached and their microchips had been taped to their carriers with the transporters bringing their own surgical tools to insert the chips.
The puppies received urgent medical attention following their discovery in March and after a period in quarantine have all now been rehomed.
Their 1,000-mile journey from Lithuania was revealed as part of an undercover investigation by Dogs Trust to highlight the horrors of puppy smuggling from Europe into the UK.
Dogs Trust, which rehomed the animals, filmed the shocking conditions the puppies are bred in and the cramped 30-hour trips they make across Europe to the UK where they are often sold for more than £1,000 each.
Footage also showed people shown how to inject the puppies with a sedative before arriving at customs so their illicit cargo will fall asleep and behave as checks are carried out.
Dogs Trust today (Tues) calls on the government to take immediate action to address the illegal importation of puppies into Great Britain.
The animal charity revealed a litter of four, four-week pugs were seized in May at Dover having been transported to the UK from the Czech Republic in a small wicker basket with a layer of cling film wrapped across it.
There was just one small breathing hole in the top of the basket and vets found that none of the puppies had been weaned, indicating that they had been taken from their mother far too young. One of the pug puppies passed away.
Paula Boyden, veterinary director for Dogs Trust, said: “These shocking cases clearly show that urgent action is needed to stop the puppy smuggling scandal.
“It remains as serious an issue for animal welfare and public health in 2017 as it did in 2014, when our first investigation highlighted the devastating effects of the 2012 changes to the Pet Travel Scheme, which effectively invited corrupt dealers to traffic underage puppies into Great Britain without the required treatments.
“The number of prosecutions is far too low and the lack of visual checks at ferry ports and borders is unacceptable.
“We want to see stronger deterrents including prison sentences for those caught trafficking puppies.
“To highlight the flaws in the system, we smuggled a fake dog ‘Charly’ though the border twice – once at Eurotunnel and once at Dover – after no visual checks were made.
“The government must revise pet travel legislation when the UK leaves the EU and ensure that puppies entering this country are healthy, not underage and are not being brought in to sell on to unsuspecting buyers via a scheme meant for non-commercial use.”
The highest number of puppies intercepted as part of the Dogs Trust Puppy Pilot arrived from Hungary, Poland and Lithuania with Latvia, Slovakia and Romania also predominant.
More than 95 per cent of puppies seized and rescued by Dogs Trust were deemed too young to travel and six per cent died due to poor health, malnutrition and dehydration.
The puppies smuggled into the UK are bred in large numbers, often in horrific conditions in Central and Eastern Europe by corrupt breeders who are continuing to exploit the demand for these desirable breeds in Great Britain.
So-called ‘designer’ dogs such as Pugs, Dachshunds, English and French Bulldogs which make up 82 per cent of those intercepted at the border. They are then typically advertised online for more than £1,000 each. The French Bulldog recently became the UK’s most popular breed.
Paula added: “Following two previous investigations in 2014 and 2015, we launched our Puppy Pilot scheme.
“Through this, and with the help of APHA, Border Force and Kent Trading Standards, we have funded the quarantine costs of over 500 illegally imported puppies and found them new homes through our rehoming centres.
“Until Dogs Trust stepped in, seized puppies were at risk of being put to sleep or turned away at the borders.”