Plymouth residents are being warned to look out for the signs of illegal importation when buying a puppy.
The warning comes after a puppy – illegally imported from Romania, was found by a vet in the city who alerted Trading Standards officers. The dog had not been vaccinated against rabies.
The Shih Tzu puppy was only 13 weeks old. Puppies are not allowed to be imported into the UK under the age of 15 weeks old, they must have a pet passport and there must be evidence that they have been vaccinated against rabies.
Previous incidents in the city have seen other so-called designer puppies brought into Plymouth with false pet passports. These dogs also were seized by officers and one seller was prosecuted.
Due to the risk of rabies and other diseases, Trading Standards officers have power to seize and quarantine animals that are illegally imported.
This puppy had to be taken from its owners for three weeks of quarantine and they now face having to pay for the transport, kennelling and vaccinations.
Councillor Sally Haydon, Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger communities said: “It’s terribly sad to take puppies away from their loving owners, but we have a duty to protect public health and to try and prevent rabies from entering the country.
“We are asking members of the public to be vigilant when buying a puppy; ensure that any animal you purchase is of the correct age and has received all of their vaccinations.”
Plymouth City Council’s Trading Standards is encouraging people to make sure they know where their new puppy has come from and has had a health check by a UK vet. If they are buying an imported dog they must ensure that it has been vaccinated for rabies and is over 15 weeks old.
Should a puppy be identified by a vet as illegally imported, additional vet fees and quarantine costs will have to be paid by the owner.
People can help tackle the illegal puppy trade and avoid an upsetting experience by following this advice:
- Look for clues that the puppy was actually born and reared where they are bought, such as food bowls and bedding. If the puppy appears scared in its surroundings, it may not have been brought up there
- Ask to see certificates of vaccinations and microchipping records but be wary of puppies advertised with a pet passport
- Check for any signs of illness
- Avoid anywhere advertising more than three breeds. More than one breed would raise concern
- Spend plenty of time with the puppy – you should not feel rushed
- Make sure you see the puppies interacting with their mum, and that she is healthy and happy. Breeders are wise and often bring in ‘stunt’ mothers
- Ask your vet for reputable breeders or rehome a rescue dog
If people are concerned about any puppy they have purchased (or know about) then they should report it to the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Service on 03434 040506.