To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Dogs Trust's report, Puppy Smuggling: the scandal continues, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the Dogs Trust recommendation that the focus on enforcement of the pet travel legislation must be shifted from carriers to a qualified animal professional from a government agency and this should include a requirement for there to be sufficient out-of-hours and weekend cover at ports.
21 September 2021
Carriers work closely with operational colleagues at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Border Force and are committed to preventing illegal imports of pet animals. Authorised pet checkers are trained by the APHA prior to being granted approval and receive annual audits of their checking and processing to ensure they uphold our requirements. The APHA regularly reviews its border enforcement work against known travel trends of those that seek to illegally import puppies to the UK, to keep pace with this rapidly evolving criminal activity. Part of this work includes intelligence-led targeting of suspected smugglers, alongside partner agencies, including Border Force. Border Force operates a 24-hour service seven days per week and alerts the APHA to suspected non-compliant dogs and puppies. Targeted intelligence-led work often takes place outside of normal working hours as needed. The Government is satisfied with the workings of these current arrangements.