Dachshunds and bulldogs being advertised for sale in Suffolk by puppy smugglers

Springer spaniel Befa, who was the 1,500th puppy to be rescued by Dogs Trust

Springer spaniel Befa, who was rescued by Dogs Trust - Credit: Beth Walsh photography

Suffolk has seen a sharp increase in the number of adverts for Dachschunds, French bulldogs and English bulldogs - breeds commonly smuggled into the UK - a dog welfare charity has warned. 

In February this year, there was a 168% increase in Suffolk in the number of adverts for the top five breeds of puppies illegally imported compared with the same period in 2020, according to Dogs Trust.

The charity says it has rescued 1,500 puppies which were being smuggled since a scheme began in 2015 to aid the interception of illegally imported dogs.

MORE: Analysis - Why has dog theft soared during lockdown?

The street value of the puppies intercepted is more than £3million if they had been sold to dealers, Dogs Trust said. 

Springer spaniel Befa

Springer spaniel Befa will be rehomed by Dogs Trust after being seized by authorities at Dover - Credit: Beth Walsh photography

Last year, the charity saw a 66% increase in dogs rescued through its Puppy Pilot scheme compared with 2019 as the demand for dogs continues to soar. 

Dogs Trust is calling for the government to increase penalties for those caught illegally importing dogs and to raise the minimum age for puppies to enter the UK to six months. 

MORE: More than 80 suspected stolen dogs seized after police raid

The puppies are often forced to travel for long journeys in squalid, cramped conditions with no toilet breaks, no food and insufficient water, so they can be sold to unsuspecting buyers, the charity said.

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In the five years of the Dogs Trust scheme, the most common breed to be intercepted has been the Dachshund (28%) followed by the French Bulldog (21%) and the English Bulldog (10%).

The puppies seized at the border and placed into quarantine primarily came from Hungary (16%), Poland (12%), Romania (10%) and Slovakia (5%). 

Black labrador Tara was also seized at Dover and will be rehomed

Labrador Tara was also seized at Dover - Credit: Beth Walsh photography

Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust, urged people to make sufficient checks before buying a puppy. 

She said: "We want people to understand that buying an illegally imported puppy has huge implications for both the pups - who have to travel miles across borders in awful conditions - and the mums who are basically breeding machines. 

"The sellers and importers care little for the dogs’ welfare and just want to make a quick buck – as a nation of dog lovers we can help stem this problem and put a stop to the suffering of dogs. 

“We are urging people to be patient when buying a puppy and follow our advice to see the puppy with their mum and siblings more than once - even if that is over video call due to current restrictions - check all paperwork carefully and if something doesn’t feel right, walk away and report it to trading standards.”

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