Trading Standards warn of buying a puppy from abroad this festive season

Legally, puppies can enter the UK 21 days after a valid Rabies vaccination and they must be at least 15 weeks old

Legally, puppies can enter the UK 21 days after a valid Rabies vaccination and they must be at least 15 weeks old at the time of entry for the vaccination to be effective. - Credit: Cambridgeshire County Council

Trading Standards is warning people against buying a puppy imported from abroad this Christmas. 

It follows continued concerns about puppies illegally entering the UK without the required vaccinations. 

Legally, puppies can enter the UK 21 days after a valid Rabies vaccination and they must be at least 15 weeks old at the time of entry for the vaccination to be effective. 

The majority of those brought to the attention of the authorities had either been imported too young to have had the effective Rabies vaccination, or have falsified passports stating the puppy is older than it actually is. 

The practice has hidden dangers – vaccinations received at an early age are not effective so would allow the potential spread of diseases such as Rabies. 

The vaccinations also wouldn’t be valid meaning the puppy has entered the country illegally and must be quarantined.  

Once the authorities are notified, illegally imported puppies are placed in quarantine for several weeks away from its new family, with fees in excess of £1,000 payable by the owner. 

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Councillor Tom Sanderson, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s communities, social mobility and inclusion committee, said: “Christmas is usually a popular time of year for people to buy pets, particularly dogs. 

“This is why we are urging people to think carefully about who they are buying from this Christmas. 

“With the cost of pets rising significantly during the pandemic, we know it can be enticing to look abroad for one that costs less. 

He added: “However, this can be a risky decision as we know that some animals are being imported illegally which not only increases the risk of spreading disease in the UK, but also raises serious welfare concerns for the animals. 

“In many instances, this results in additional quarantine costs for the unsuspecting purchaser. 

“If something doesn’t feel right, walk away.” 

Welfare concerns in relation to breeders should be reported to the local district council, and anyone who has concerns about a puppy they have purchased should contact their vet in the first instance.  

If you would like to contact someone about suspected illegal puppy trading please call Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133.