One in three small animal vets has seen puppies believed to have been illegally imported in the last year, according to new figures from the British Veterinary Association.
Vets’ suspicions had been raised for several reasons. These include foreign microchips and a puppy’s age not matching that given in its passport. Some vets also cited health-related suspicions after seeing cases of parvovirus and kennel cough.
The most common breeds suspected to have been illegally imported are those that are in hot demand, made popular by celebrity owners or promoted through merchandise. Half of vets surveyed voiced concerns about illegal imports of French bulldog puppies, with Pugs (29%) and Chihuahuas (16%) as the second and third most common.
Vet Gudrun Ravetz, President of the British Veterinary Association, said: “Illegal importers only care about profit, not welfare. As vets, we’ve heard awful stories of people buying puppies only for their puppy to be dead 24 hours later because of the way it was bred and cared for in its early days outside the UK.
To prevent illegal profiteering practices and ensure purchase of a healthy puppy, BVA advises potential purchasers to use the RSPCA puppy contract, a free online guide which outlines both the owner and breeder’s responsibilities in buying and selling a puppy as well as simple tips on what to look for such as always seeing a puppy with its mother. See puppycontract.rspca.org.uk.