August 2017

I note your concern about the crime of puppies being smuggled across borders. The issue has also been rightly highlighted by the Dogs Trust.

Responsibility for stopping illegal movement begins in the country where puppies are born, so in response to a previous report the Chief Veterinary Officer wrote to the authorities certain countries to remind them of their duties.

An EU pet travel regulation introduced in 2014 brought further measures to strengthen enforcement. The new-style passport is harder to forge, new rules apply when more than five animals are moved together and all EU countries must carry out compliance checks. A 12-week minimum age for rabies vaccination assists compliance checking and restricts the movement of very young animals.

As we move forward and withdraw from the EU, there will be opportunities for the UK to re-evaluate the rules.

There is already a robust checking regime for pets travelling here. Every pet travelling with its owner on an approved route is checked for compliance with the travel regime. The UK Border Force carries out a wide range of checks on vehicles arriving in the UK.

It is important to recognise that, legally, the British Government cannot defeat this problem by itself. Government advice 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.

If you are aware of any specific case or problems occurring in East Yorkshire, please do let me have full details and I will look into the matter further.