Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday 2nd April, Sir David called on the Government to take urgent action on puppy smuggling.
The Southend West MP raised the shocking scale of puppy smuggling across Europe, and highlighted how criminal gangs are exploiting the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) to illegally bring underage and unvaccinated puppies to the UK. Adding his support to the Dogs Trust's campaign to end puppy smuggling, Sir David urged the Government to strengthen legislation and border enforcement after we leave the EU.
In his speech, Sir David said 'An unintended consequence of the pet travel scheme and the relaxation of EU legislation has been an increase of smuggled puppies into the UK. It appears that those smugglers have easily been able to falsify pet passports and vaccine documentation, because enforcement at the borders is simply not good enough. It would be wonderful if my hon. Friend the Minister could explain how he and the Department intend to deal with the issues we face at those borders.
In 2012, when the rules were relaxed, the number of dogs entering the UK under PETS increased by 61%, and the age at which they could be imported was reduced from about 10 months to just 15 weeks. That has made it easier for smugglers to flout the rules and bring in unvaccinated puppies who are too young to travel.
As we have already heard, we are a nation of animal lovers; let us prove it. Through a simple Bill, we could change the way in which puppies are treated, and dealing with the wicked online behaviour of these crooks and criminals is key to that. We need to hear a strong message from the Minister.'