Sefton Council is asking residents to give ‘Paws for Thought’ to ensure they don’t buy illegally imported puppies, following the culmination of a high profile case in Southport.
The “Paws for Thought” campaign has launched this week in a bid to educate people about the financial and emotional dangers of buying illegally imported puppies, especially in the run up to Christmas.
Often illegally imported puppies, which are not vaccinated against rabies, are only ever discovered when a family take their new four legged friend for their first vet visit.
At this point the puppy has to be seized and put in quarantine, with any costs incurred falling on the dog’s owners.
Not only is there a significant financial implication, with fees in excess of £1,000, but the act of removing your cute new four legged friend can be extremely distressing and stressful.
Under legislation, any dogs entering the UK must have been vaccinated against rabies – however the vaccine will not work if given to puppies younger than 12 weeks.
As a result Sefton Council’s Trading Standards team are urging those considering buying a puppy to make sure they know who they are buying from, to check the pup’s vaccination history and always ask to see documentation.
The campaign launches after five people were prosecuted after the Trading Standards team uncovered an illegal puppy smuggling operation on Skipton Avenue, Southport.
Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulation and Compliance, said:
“We don’t want people to have their lovely new puppies taken away from them.
“But illegally imported and unvaccinated puppies are an issue, and it is something which can happen in Sefton as we have seen recently.
“The puppies we discovered in Southport were only around eight weeks old when they were brought into the UK, meaning even if they had been vaccinated it would not have been effective.
“Increasing numbers of puppies are being imported illegally in to the UK from puppy farms in Eastern Europe.
“These puppies are being sold via adverts on the internet and are accompanied by false and forged documentation which lead buyers to believe they have been imported legally or bred in the UK.
“We want people to be vigilant, especially in the run up to Christmas when interest in buying puppies is especially high.”
The Paws for Thought campaign advises people to be suspicious if the seller cannot show you the puppy with its mother and litter mates, as well as:
• If the puppy has been vaccinated ask to see the documentation. This must clearly state the veterinary practice where this was carried out.
• Be suspicious if the address of the veterinary practice is outside the UK.
• If the puppy has been brought in from outside the UK, it must be at least 15 weeks old and have a pet passport or a veterinary certificate.
• Never agree to have the puppy delivered to your home address or to meet the seller to collect the puppy.
• Never pay for a puppy in advance.
• Report any concerns using the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06
Earlier this year a joint raid by Sefton Council and Merseyside Police at a Skipton Avenue property discovered seven illegally imported puppies being kept in a poor condition.
Sefton’s Trading Standards team had no choice but to seize the puppies and put them in quarantine.
Fears that the pups were too young to be vaccinated against rabies were later confirmed and sadly one puppy was so ill, it had to be put to sleep.
The remaining six puppies were later successfully rehomed.
Cllr Lappin added:
“The case not only shows a blatant disregard for the law, but put the community at serious risk of the spread of rabies by illegally importing the dogs.
“Hopefully this sends out a strong message to anyone thinking of acting illegally that they will be caught and prosecuted.
“We would like to thank the member of the public that came forward to report their concerns, and would encourage others to be vigilant in order to tackle other incidents of a similar nature.”