Posted: Wednesday 7th June 2017
A precious pooch may seem like the perfect gift for an animal-loving family member or friend. But Hertfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service is warning well-meaning residents to be wary of inadvertently buying an illegally imported puppy.
Under importation rules, known as the Pet Travel Scheme, dogs, cats and ferrets must be microchipped, hold a pet passport or an official veterinary certificate. They need to have received an effective rabies vaccination and travel with an approved carrier on an approved route. Dogs must also have received tapeworm treatment between one and five days before travelling.
The UK is a rabies free country but puppies smuggled into the country often have not received an effective vaccination. Rabies is a fatal disease of the nervous system that can affect all mammals, including humans, cats, dogs, farmed animals and wildlife.
Even if an illegally imported puppy does not have rabies, it may have other health or behavioural issues. It might have been separated from its mother too early or have health issues which have not been diagnosed or treated.
Matthew Harding, Principal Officer at Hertfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, said: “Unscrupulous breeders smuggle illegal puppies into the country before they have received the appropriate vaccinations and often in appalling conditions.
“Consumers can be duped into buying these puppies at a cheaper cost than the equivalent UK-bred puppies but later find that their beloved new pet falls ill and has to be placed into quarantine.
"This means that far from landing a bargain, they are left with a large bill for veterinary and quarantine care costs.”
If you are thinking of buying a puppy, Hertfordshire County Council’s Trading Standard Service advises people to remember the following tips:
- Go to a reliable and reputable breeder, such as a member of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme
- View the puppy with its mother and litter mates where it was bred and be suspicious if the seller will not let you do this
- Get as much information as you can about where the puppy has come from and beware if the seller is outside the UK
- Ask to see vaccinations documentation – the veterinary practice details should be on this paperwork
- Never agree to have the puppy delivered to you or to meet the seller in a place away from where the puppy was bred. Be suspicious if the seller suggests this.
- Never pay for the puppy in advance
- Imported puppies must be at least 15 weeks old
For further advice, please go www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/business/tradingstandards
You can also report any concerns that you have to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.