House of Commons puppy smuggling inquiry underway

Select committee calls for evidence into illegal smuggling of dogs from European Union into UK.

Parliament has today (1 August) launched a call for written evidence into illegal puppy smuggling from the EU into the UK.

The inquiry by the House of Commons Select Committee for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs follows on from its 2017 inquiry into the welfare of domestic pets in England.

Submissions sought

The committee seeks written submissions on the following questions:

  • How many puppies are imported into the UK illegally, including under the EU Pet Travel Scheme?
  • Are border controls in the UK sufficient to detect puppies being imported illegally, and if not, how should this be improved?
  • After EU exit, should the UK introduce tougher controls on pet imports? How would these be balanced against the needs of people legally transporting pets across borders?
  • Will the ban on third-party sales of puppies (i) encourage buyers to source puppies responsibly and (ii) reduce illegal puppy smuggling?
  • How could demand in the UK for puppies be better met by domestic breeding?

Import increase

Recent figures released by Defra showed imports of dogs to Great Britain via the EU Pet Travel Scheme hit 307,357 dogs in 2018, up from 287,016 in 2017.

This is the sixth year in a row that numbers have increased since the changes to the EU Pet Travel Scheme in 2012 harmonised pet travel across the EU.

In 2011, before the changes, this figure was 85,786.

‘Vitally important’

Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust, said: “We are delighted MPs have launched this vitally important inquiry as we have long been urging the government to take forward our clear recommendations to overhaul pet travel legislation, including increasing penalties for those fuelling this despicable trade.

“A lack of visual checks at the borders and insufficient penalties for illegally importing puppies mean there is no real deterrent for puppy smugglers capitalising on the huge demand in this country for desirable breeds such as French bulldogs, dachshunds and English bulldogs.”


The deadline for written submissions is 23 September 2019 and can be sent via the UK Parliament website.