I am grateful to the Dogs Trust for highlighting the issue of puppy smuggling. Responsibility for stopping illegal movement begins in the country where puppies are born, so the Chief Veterinary Officer will be writing to the authorities in the countries, highlighted by the Dog's Trust report, to remind them of their duties.
An EU pet travel regulation introduced in 2014 has strengthened enforcement with new passports that are harder to forge. Furthermore, new rules apply when more than five animals are moved together and all EU countries must carry out compliance checks. Other protections such as a 12-week minimum age for rabies vaccination helps with compliance, checking and restricts the movement of very young animals. As the UK withdraws from the EU, there will be further opportunities to re-evaluate the rules.
For animals travelling to the UK there are robust checks in place; every pet travelling with its owner on an approved route is checked for compliance with the travel regime and the UK Border Force carries out a wide range of checks on vehicles arriving.
Some of the Pet Advertising Advisory Group's minimum standards have become mandatory for online sellers; it has also been made illegal to sell puppies younger than eight weeks, and anyone breeding and selling three or more litters a year must now apply for a formal licence. The Government has also given support for 'Lucy's Law,' which will ban pet shops from selling kittens and puppies and they will be legislating to ban third-party sales of puppies and kittens.