Ban Puppy Imports Campaign and Petition

For most of us, 2020 was the much-anticipated year of change, hope, and positivity, as most turns of the decade promise. Sadly, as we all know too well, this year has proven to be quite the opposite, with human tragedy and an undercurrent of uncertainty now the norm. Sadly in the world of animal welfare there have also been some severe disruptions too.

Almost coinciding with start of Lockdown, the ban of 3rd party commercial puppy and kitten dealers in England, known as Lucy’s Law, ensuring that all puppies are seen interacting with their mum in the place they were born, was almost immediately weakened by restrictions being lifted temporarily, enabling puppies to be delivered to new owners; the reason being that in terms of human to human Covid transmission, it was thought best for one person to deliver than two people collect.

Add this worrying normalisation of puppy delivery to the huge increase in demand for pups, whatever the motives, e.g. combat loneliness, improve mental health, project to train, or just to keep bored kids happy, the results were devastating; including poor socialisation with other dogs and humans, as well as high likelihood of separation anxiety when owners return to work, all problems most likely felt for years to come. But as demand and let’s face it, desperation for these cute bundles of fluff grew and grew, so the sources of these pandemic pups became more questionable, best highlighted by the sad passing of Pomeranian puppy ‘Mr Chai’, purchased via an agent by a celeb couple from Love Island.

But what’s crucial to understand, is that Mr Chai was just one of literally thousands of pups still being imported into the UK, from overseas breeders, and all totally legally; yes, you heard right, totally legally. Now, Government’s advice for prospective puppy-buyers is to always physically see pup interacting with mum and littermates in the place he or she was born; such was the premise behind Lucy’s Law, meaning all breeding dogs are now visible, and all breeders are therefore by default, accountable.

But with pups legally imported into UK it really doesn’t take much working out that this excellent Government advice is simply impossible to achieve. Video links and Zoom chats may show breeding dogs with pups, but unless you’re there too, how can you ever be 100% sure that’s your pup and most importantly, she’s their real mum?

With such a high-profile puppy death making the frontpages of our national tabloids, it wasn’t long before a concerned member of the public, Lucy Parkinson from Preston, Lancashire, started an online petition to ‘Ban the exploitative import of young puppies for sale in the UK’, which she then submitted to the Petitions Committee in Westminster, who then uploaded it to the Government website.

Now it’s worth noting at this point the use of the words ‘young’, ‘exploitative’ and ‘for sale in the UK’. In legislative terms ‘young’ generally means below six months of age, ‘exploitative’ means irresponsibly bred and then transported long distances, much like the legal route to market from legal puppy farms in the UK, and ‘for sale in UK’ means commercial sale for profit, i.e. non-rescue. It’s important therefore, to know that this petition clearly targets pups imported from overseas puppy farms, and doesn’t effect rescue pups coming in from abroad, or responsibly bred pups either.

Since it went live a few weeks ago, unsurprisingly the ’Ban the exploitative import of young puppies for sale in the UK’ Government petition, fuelled by a dog-loving public angry that imported puppies should’ve never be put in these situations in the first place, let alone the conditions their mums are presumably kept in, has already collected well over 80,000 signatures. It’s also gained celebrity support from well-known animal-lovers including Ricky Gervais, Simon Cowell, Ellie Goulding, Peter Egan, Sue Perkins, Rachel Riley, Paul O’Grady, Davina McCall, and loads more! The campaign is also backed by the Daily Mirror, as well as animal welfare organisations large and small right across the land, as well as cross-party MPs too.

So what would banning the exploitative import of young puppies for sale in the UK actually look like or manifest itself as? Well the easy solution would be to raise minimum import age for a puppy to be sold in UK from 15 weeks to at least six months. This means that the puppy’s permanent teeth will have come through, which is almost impossible to fake, so makes age detection and therefore law enforcement, much more practical and effective.

Furthermore it’s unlikely puppies of six months old and above will be as desirable to puppy buyers compared to younger pups, so will be much less likely to be advertised, kept on a breeder’s premises, and therefore produced in the first place. Blood tests to prove rabies vaccines have in fact worked can also be undertaken. So just by applying this simple increase in minimum age to six months, the biggest step forward in helping to eliminate this unethical, immoral, but legal route to market, can be achieved.

But before that can happen we need 100,000 signatures to even start that conversation in Parliament; and should the Government agree, it would mean that all pups in the UK would be sourced from homebred responsible breeders, UK or overseas rescues, or responsibly bred pups brought into the country ethically. So to all the animal-lovers out there who already support the wonderful Viovet, please sign and share this ’Ban the exploitative import of young puppies for sale in the UK’ petition, and let’s make that debate happen in Westminster ASAP; and help prevent cruelty to our four-legged friends, their mum, as well as ending the crushing heartache to purchasers of sick puppies.

Finally I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my huge thanks to Viovet for supporting this campaign and petition which can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/326261. Please always use the hashtag #BanPuppyImports when sharing on social media thank you.

Written by: Marc Abraham BVM&S MRCVS (Guest Author)