1. ITV Report

Investigation reveals illegal puppy smuggling trade is rife

Some puppies are sedated to smuggle them across the border Photo: Dogs Trust

The Dogs Trust is calling on the government to take immediate action to address the illegal importation of puppies into Great Britain.

It follows an undercover investigation by the charity which discovered smugglers across Central and Eastern Europe continuing to abuse the system.

More than 700 puppies are currently available to buy in Newcastle and Sunderland across the four biggest classified ad websites, which the trust indicates the demand for dogs at the moment.

The charity is urging people to contact their local MP via the Dogs Trust website to insist that the government revise inadequate legislation to put a stop to this horrific trade.

Dogs rescued in Europe Credit: PA

New undercover footage revealed a vet in Lithuania selling sedatives to allow puppies to be smuggled across the British border and, in a separate case, a litter of puppies as young as four weeks old transported with their umbilical cords still attached during a cramped 1,000 mile, 30-hour journey across Europe.

Vets in Poland and Lithuania were also filmed falsifying pet passports and faking rabies vaccination records, enabling underage puppies to slip through the net without the correct paperwork.

Puppies 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.

They are brought into the country illegally at a young age in order to appear ‘cuter’ to buyers, with desirable breeds such as Pugs, Dachshunds, English and French Bulldogs making up 82% of those intercepted at the border.

Pugs are among the most desirable breeds Credit: PA

In 2016 alone, 275,876 dogs travelled to Great Britain on the Pet Travel Scheme; a non-commercial system allowing animals to travel easily between EU Member States without undergoing quarantine.

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.

Of the puppiesseized, more than 95% of puppies rescued by Dogs Trust were deemed too young to travel and 6% sadly died due to poor health, malnutrition and dehydration.