Thank you to my constituents who have contacted me recently about puppy smuggling.
I share your concerns about the illegal importation of puppies into the UK and I pay tribute to Dogs Trust for its crucial work on this issue. I have long believed that more should be done to block wholesale puppy imports that are abusing the Pet Travel Scheme and to ensure that all puppies have legitimate documentation.
It is also vital that government agencies have the resources they need to enforce the current legislation. The Government says leaving the EU will open up new opportunities for managing our pet travel arrangements and ensuring there are robust controls on disease and animal welfare after Brexit. These warm words must be matched with real action and I can assure you that I will hold the Government to account on this issue.
At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto that pledged to prohibit the third-party sale of puppies. This is very important to improve welfare for all dogs and to help deter irresponsible breeders from trafficking puppies into the UK to sell them on for financial gain. I am therefore pleased that the Government has confirmed it will ban third-party sales of puppies and kittens in England. The ban will instead require prospective pet owners to buy or adopt a pet directly from a breeder or a rehoming centre.
I believe we must send out a strong message that the illegal importation of puppies is a cruel practice that must stop. The Opposition has consulted on its draft Animal Welfare Plan, which includes proposals to reintroduce rabies testing before entry to the UK, to increase the post rabies test period to three months and to introduce a microchip database and record microchip numbers upon entry.
Thank you once again for contacting me and sharing your views. I can assure you that I will continue to press for improved measures to tackle puppy smuggling.