Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury is supporting a charity's fight against puppy smuggling.

Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has been investigating the problem since 2014.

They have found that unscrupulous breeders take advantage of the Pet Travel Scheme, which ends up with underage puppies being illegally imported into Britain from central and eastern Europe. They are then sold to unsuspecting members of the public.

Dogs Trust invited a host of MPs and Peers, including Mr Amesbury, to its annual House of Commons reception, where the charity – which coined the famous slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ - asked for support in the fight against puppy smuggling.

Mr Amesbury said: “I’m very pleased to support Dogs Trust in raising awareness of the plight of illegally imported puppies, who suffer the most harrowing of journeys at the hands of these unscrupulous dealers.

“It’s imperative that the Government takes immediate action by enforcing proper checks at the ports and on-the-spot fines to deter these breeders and dealers, as well as introducing revised legislation as a priority when the UK leaves the EU.

“We really hope this will help to effectively regulate pet travel.”

Over the last few months, nearly 100 dogs were seized by the Animal and Plant Health Agency at the borders, as dealers take advantage of the increased demand for puppies in the run-up to Christmas.

Dogs Trust has found that of the puppies who do survive the appalling conditions they are forced to travel in, many require emergency treatment – with dehydration and malnutrition among the horrific conditions they suffer from as a result of travelling for thousands of miles in cramped conditions, with no food or water. 

Thanks to quick intervention and expert care from the Puppy Pilot scheme, Dogs Trust has been able to save 94% of the puppies coming into care.

The charity has issued a plea to anyone thinking of getting a dog to do their research or consider re-homing instead.

Adrian Burder, Dogs Trust CEO, said: “It’s a shame that we still have to remind people of our slogan, ‘A dog is for Life, not just for Christmas’ nearly 40 years on from its creation. We always encourage responsible re-homing, but as we’ve seen, dealers will go to great lengths to dupe innocent people, making it increasingly difficult for people to spot an illegally smuggled puppy.

“Over the next 12 months, we will continue to push for proper enforcement at UK borders. We will also continue our Puppy Pilot scheme, which rescues puppies seized at borders, funds their quarantine and rehomes them responsibly. So far, this scheme has saved more than 600 puppies.

“We can’t thank Mike Amesbury MP enough for his support, and we look forward to continuing to work together to tackle this issue.”