I've received emails from constituents who are concerned about puppy smuggling. I am absolutely against this cruel practice.
Firstly, I would like to assure you that the Government remains absolutely committed to continuously achieving greater animal welfare. I am proud that the United Kingdom has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and that it shares the highest ranking on the animal protection index, as well as the highest in the G7. Of course, further progress must be made, and I am passionate about driving these changes.
The Kept Animals Bill, introduced in June 2021, was designed to implement several areas of the Animal Welfare Action Plan 2021, which was the UK’s first ever action plan to improve the welfare and conservation of animals at home and abroad. The concerns you raised in your letter remain aligned with the Government’s ambitions for the future of animal welfare. Due to the Bill’s multi-issue nature, there has been considerable scope creep, and the Government will now take forward measures in the Kept Animals Bill individually during the remainder of Parliament.
As I am aware, every dog travelling into the Great Britain on approved routes must be microchipped and sufficient paperwork must be supplied to ensure the dog is properly vaccinated and old enough to travel. The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affair (Defra) consulted on proposed changes to the commercial and non-commercial movement of pets into Great Britain to further uphold our rigorous pet travel border checking routines. I look forward to reading Defra’s summary report as soon as it is published.
Ministers are committed to cracking down on puppy smuggling and will ban the imports of young or heavily pregnant dogs, as well as dogs with mutilations, such as cropped ears or docked tails. These practices are abhorrent and through applying strengthened penalties, the Government wishes to send a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated. It will allow our courts to take a firmer stance on cases where pets are illegally imported.
Through the introduction of Lucy’s Law in 2020, everyone must now buy directly from breeders or consider adopting from rescue centres, which I am delighted is the first major step in stopping the illegal pet trade. If an individual sells puppies or kittens without a licence, they could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months. Any concerns regarding the duty of care of people responsible for animals can be reported to Southend-on-Sea Council who have the powers to grant, refuse, or revoke licenses according to animal welfare regulations.
Animal Welfare is incredibly important to everybody in Southend and Leigh-on-Sea, and I look forward to representing your concerns and helping the Government maintain its strong record on animal welfare.