The RSPCA has launched its #ForPupsSake campaign calling on the Government to change the law to stop puppy imports and crackdown on dogs being sold illegally on the black market.
The campaign comes after figures revealed that puppy-related complaints in Nottinghamshire increased by 60 per cent during lockdown – with many concerned about the illegal and unscrupulous selling of dogs.
This dramatic increase in complaints was echoed across the country, with some areas reporting surges of more than 600 per cent.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “We have huge concerns about puppy imports and with the soaring demand for dogs as people stayed at home through the pandemic, we fear this demand is fuelling this potentially damaging trade.
"This summer saw legal imports of puppies more than double as the demand for puppies can’t be met domestically.
"New laws introduced in April this year should help crack down on the domestic puppy farms in England, but dogs are still coming in by their thousands from overseas and we have no independent way of checking the conditions in which these puppies are being kept.
"Then there is the problem of illegal puppy smuggling and those who buy a puppy that has been illegally imported from abroad are not only potentially supporting an illicit, underground trade that promotes animal cruelty and neglect in order to make money, but may end up with a puppy who is extremely sick with the potential for severe behaviour problems.
"We are calling on the Government to change the law to increase the age that puppies can be imported from 15 to 24 weeks.
"This will not only better protect their welfare, it reduces the value of the puppy to dealers, making it less lucrative and will also make it easier to spot puppy smugglers if they are attempting to bring in younger dogs illegally.”
To support the #ForPupsSake campaign, visit www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/puppytrade.