Illegal dog and puppy imports

Thank you for contacting me about puppies being smuggled across borders.

Government takes the issue of illegal dog and puppy imports very seriously. This abhorrent trade causes suffering to the smuggled dogs and puts health at risk. I am pleased that Ministers have committed to cracking down on puppy smuggling and are working closely with the Dogs Trust to address this issue.

I know that all pet animals entering Great Britain on approved routes under the EU Pet Travel Scheme undergo documentary and identity checks. The checks are performed by ferry, train or airline carriers or agents acting on their behalf. I am aware that the Animal and Plant Health Agency undertakes random checks of the pet animals travelling to ensure the carriers are performing their duties to the required standard.

I am encouraged that the Animal and Plant Health Agency works with Border Force and other operational partners at ports, airports and inland, sharing intelligence to enforce the Pet Travel Scheme, disrupt illegal imports and seize non-compliant animals. I am able to tell you that 1,344 dogs were quarantined after being illegally landed in Great Britain between 2016 and 2018. This includes those that were imported under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, as well as those imported commercially under the Balai Directive.

Government advice to prospective owners is very clear: people who buy a pet are responsible for knowing where it comes from and, if it is found to have been imported illegally, they will be held responsible for any necessary quarantine and veterinary fees.

This topic is particularly close to my heart being a puppy-owner myself to Archie, a Border Terrier. I regularly attend events raising awareness of puppy smuggling in Parliament hosted by the Dogs Trust as well as taking part in the debate on puppy smuggling. They have and will continue to have my full support.

I hope that this reassures you of mine and the Government’s position and if there is anything further then please just let me know. Thank you for taking the time to raise your concerns.

Very best wishes


Member of Parliament for Maidstone and The Weald