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ICAWC 2015 - Puppy Smuggling Scandal - Paula Boyden & Brigita Kymantaite


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Dogs Trust, with the help of Animal Rights Protection Lithuania, has undertaken two investigations looking at the illegal import of puppies across the EU. Despite conclusive evidence from the 1st investigation being presented to the EU and national government along with a series of urgent recommendations set out by Dogs Trust to help curb the trade, the puppy trafficking trade has continued unabated. In early 2015, Dogs Trust went back into Eastern Europe to highlight that the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) is still being used as a cover by commercial breeders and dealers in Lithuania and Romania on a regular basis to illegally import puppies, often in horrendous conditions, and transporting them thousands of miles without their mothers.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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ICAWC 2015 - Puppy Smuggling Scandal - Paula Boyden & Brigita Kymantaite

  1. 1. The Puppy Smuggling Scandal An investigation into the illegal smuggling of puppies
  2. 2. Background Dogs Trust became concerned about the no. of puppies coming in from Eastern Europe illegally after changes to the Pet Travel Scheme (EU legislation) in 2012
  3. 3. Background • We warned Defra who believed much of the trade was anecdotal and they wanted evidence before taking action • Our objective was to obtain this evidence and develop a campaign that was impossible for Defra and enforcement agencies to ignore
  4. 4. Investigation - Strategy • This campaign would not have been successful by purely focusing on the welfare issues to dogs through puppy smuggling. • Recognised dog welfare is low down the list of government priorities. • We needed to show the wider implications of puppy trafficking to human health through the introduction of disease and utilise the fact that other relevant bodies such as the transport carriers themselves, the quarantine kennels and Trading Standards all were concerned about this growing issue. • We had to move it from being a dog welfare issue to a border control issue and ‘demonise’ the puppy traffickers who were getting rich from flouting the law.
  5. 5. The Investigation - Audience • We had four distinct audiences we needed to engage with our campaign in order to bring about change: • Defra and the influencers able to apply pressure to them • Organisations involved in the trade including the transport carriers • The veterinary profession in the UK • The UK dog loving population
  6. 6. 1st Investigation - Execution • Brought in the knowledge and expertise of an undercover, ethical investigations team • Identified the main source countries for puppies entering the UK and obtained documentary evidence of puppies being sold and transported to the UK from these countries • Worked with partner charities in those countries • Gained an understanding of border control operations at Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover • Set up a fake website to engage with dealers in other countries • Obtained documentary proof of the UK abuses of the Pet Travel Scheme by seeking out illegal dealers who are selling puppies in the UK
  7. 7. The Puppy Smuggling Scandal • 1st undercover investigation focussed on Lithuania and Hungary • Report launched in November 2014
  8. 8. Key findings • Breeders and dealers in Lithuania and Hungary using the Pet Travel Scheme for the commercial importation of puppies into Great Britain • Unscrupulous vets falsifying data on pet passports • Breeders and dealers from Lithuania and Hungary supplying young puppies under the legal age they can be imported, potentially rendering their rabies vaccinations invalid (if they had even been vaccinated) • Ineffective border controls and enforcement at British ports
  9. 9. December 2014 – changes to legislation • A new minimum age of 12 weeks before a pet can be vaccinated against rabies • New pet passports which contain laminated strips and a requirement for more contact details to be provided by the vet issuing the document • A new requirement for all EU Member States to carry out non-discriminatory checks
  10. 10. Puppy Smuggling: the scandal continues • 2nd undercover investigation after changes to the pet movement legislation came into force in December 2014 • Focussed on Lithuania and Romania • Report released in July 2015
  11. 11. Key findings • Breeders and dealers in Lithuania and Romania using the Pet Travel Scheme for the commercial importation of puppies into Great Britain, despite the recent introduction of changes designed to strengthen the scheme • Vets in Lithuania and Romania continuing to falsify data on pet passports • Breeders and traders from Lithuania and Romania continuing to supply young puppies - with dates of birth simply being faked on pet passports • Ineffective border controls and enforcement at British ports – successfully smuggled a fake dog through British ports three times without a visual check
  12. 12. Story on the ground - Lithuania • “Pedigree” dogs sold at the market, internet, pet shops • Average price 150 – 300 EUR • ~1700 “pedigree” puppies adverts on main advertising website • Legislation on commercial dog breeders to be registered at State vet service, not implemented
  13. 13. Investigation on the ground - Lithuania • Making calls following puppy adverts, going to the markets • Visiting veterinarians, asking to issue false passports • Asking mini van drivers to take puppies with the false passports to UK • ~ 150 EUR cost to organize false passport and transport a puppy to UK
  14. 14. Urgent Recommendations • Government must develop an immediate action plan to address the abuse of PETS • Ban the import of puppies under 6 months from entering the UK under PETS by extending post-vaccination wait period from 3 weeks to 3 months • Improve the robustness of checks at ports – visual checks of all dogs and intelligence-led physical checks where necessary • Cross agency working to develop an intelligence system and share data on illegally traded commercial consignments of animals • The creation of a centrally accessible database logging microchip numbers of pets entering the UK • Introduction of a fixed penalty charge for those caught illegally importing puppies into the UK • EU legislation requiring the compulsory identification and registration of dogs which is linked to an EU database
  15. 15. Investigation – UK Outcomes • We’ve turned ‘anecdotal’ evidence into irrefutable proof which has enabled us ensure Defra can not ignore the issue of puppy smuggling. • 28,750 page views for our fake advert alerting potential dog owners about the risks of online puppy purchasing • Invited by Trading Standards to work with them on delivering training to their network of officers about identifying and responding to a trafficked pup • The media interest in our investigations have been very strong. 2nd investigation launched in the Mail on Sunday. First report achieved 207 pieces of coverage with an OTS of 68,703,615. • Support from the carriers and charities • DEFRA now recognise there is an issue and is engaging – HUGE step forward! • European Commission has also changed its position
  16. 16. Investigation – Lithuania Outcomes • All vets banned to issue pet passports for 6 month (with possibility to expand period) • 9 vets suspended to issue pet passports up to 12 months after the end of the ban • 7 got fines or warnings • 4 breeders fined • Training on pet passport regulations
  17. 17. Please click the following link to view the video
  18. 18. Thank You To view the footage in full please visit