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FOUR PAWS Urges MPs to Widen Debate on Puppy Trade

LONDON, September 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

 

  • UK parliamentary debate to focus on sale of puppies in retail establishments, following Pup Aid petition 
  • Charity welcomes debate, but calls on MPs to consider impact of online trade and the huge rise in puppies being imported from Eastern Europe 

International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has written to MPs participating in tomorrow's parliamentary debate regarding the puppy trade in the UK, to highlight the huge rise in puppies being imported from Eastern Europe and to urge them to consider the role of the internet in driving this controversial industry.

The debate, which was announced after a petition launched by Pup Aid reached over 100,000 signatures, takes place tomorrow and is understood to be focusing on the sale of puppies in retail centres such as pet shops and pet supermarkets, many of which are supplied by puppy farms.

FOUR PAWS, which has offices in 12 countries around the world and a particularly strong presence in Eastern Europe, has been actively campaigning against the illegal puppy trade and the rise in Eastern European puppy farms, which have been set up to cater for the strong demand from the UK and other European countries for cheap pedigree puppies. While FOUR PAWS welcomes the decision to debate the puppy trade in parliament, there are some points they feel should also be taken into consideration when debating the subject.

"We understand that the focus of the debate will be on the sale of puppies in pet shops and similar establishments, which is of course very important," said Julie Sanders, Country Manager FOUR PAWS UK. "However, we feel that no debate on this subject would be complete without considering the rise in puppies being brought to this country from puppy farms in Eastern Europe. Since the relaxation of quarantine restrictions, there has been a huge increase in dogs being imported from Central and Eastern Europe, suggesting that the Pet Travel Scheme is actually being used to import puppies for commercial sale. For example, in 2012 imports of dogs from Hungary increased on the previous year by over 450% and from Romania by over 1150%."

Puppies bred on puppy farms in Eastern Europe are kept in appalling conditions, they are not vaccinated against diseases and are removed from their mothers far too young, only to travel hundreds of miles to be sold in the UK or other European countries. They will often be suffering from health problems and may carry infectious diseases such as Parvovirus and Canine Distemper virus.

"It is our view that one of the main drivers behind the illegal puppy  trade is the internet where the majority of these puppies are sold, and that in order to effectively regulate this horrendous industry, it is necessary to place much tighter restrictions on the sale of puppies  through online classified websites," Sanders continued.

In 2013 around 58,000 stray dogs and puppies were taken into dog pounds across the UK and left unclaimed, assumed abandoned. FOUR PAWS believes that the rise of the internet puppy trade increases the likelihood of dogs being abandoned, as it enables people to make quick and impulsive decisions to buy puppies without considering the longer term commitment and time needed to look after the animals properly. Factor into this the huge rise in puppies being illegally imported from Eastern Europe, and the large number already being bred by licensed and unlicensed breeders to sell for profit , and it is clear the situation is unsustainable.

On top of the need for greater regulation of puppies being sold on online classified websites, FOUR PAWS has recommended to MPs that there should be more rigorous port checks, more funding for confiscations and more significant penalties for people caught importing and selling puppies illegally, in order to stop the Pet Travel Scheme being abused. Stricter controls on the breeding and transportation of puppies should also be implemented across all EU countries, while all breeders who breed for profit should be required by law to be licensed, according to the charity.

Greater education of consumers in what to look for when buying a puppy and in responsible ownership will help to reduce the number of illegal puppies being bought and the large number of dogs and puppies being abandoned every year in the UK.

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