Illegal Puppy Trading At Cairnryan Given National Spotlight

Puppy trafficking through Cairnryan was a key agenda point at the Puppy Trafficking Working Group – a coalition of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England’s leading animal welfare and enforcement agencies, hosted by South Scotland MSP Emma Harper last Thursday (19 December) in the Scottish Parliament.

The group, which meets quarterly, consists of around 40 members including the Scottish SPCA, Scottish Government, Ulster, Dublin and Irish SPCA, RSPCA, HMRC, Dumfries & Galloway Council and the British Veterinary Association – to name a few.

Since her election to the Scottish Parliament in 2016, Ms Harper has worked closely with the Scottish SPCA and others on the issue of puppy trafficking by promoting the Say No To Puppy Dealers and Assured Breeders Scheme national press campaigns and on several occasions inviting the organisations to Parliament to highlight the issue to other MSPs.

Ms Harper has a particular interest in puppy trafficking both as a dog owner herself and because 60 out of 162 Scottish seizures of illegal puppy smuggling has taken place at the Port of Cairnryan so far this year.

Ms Harper is particularly concerned about new puppy owners who delight in buying their pups only to discover they die a few weeks later because of parvovirus, a disease which is highly contagious and passed from one dog to another. One of the prime indicators of puppy farming is where the pup’s mum isn’t available to be seen and she hopes raising awareness of these facts at national level will protect people from such devastating cases.

Ms Harper staged a photocall in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament where she was joined by the Minister responsible for animal welfare – Mairi Gougeon, Mike Flynn and Gilly Mendes Ferreira of the SSPCA and Gillian Martin MSP as well as MSPs from all parties in the parliament, eager to promote responsible ownership and the importance of sourcing a puppy responsibly.

As part of her continued campaigning efforts, Ms Harper is also contacting HMRC – a partner of the working group – as a large amount of money is recovered from lucrative puppy smuggling and she is keen to ensure that there is transparency with the figures and that a fair share of the money seized at Cairnryan comes to Scotland.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“Illegal puppy traffickers have no interest in the safety or welfare of the breeding bitches or puppies they produce. They only care about making money from unsuspecting purchasers – it is a cruel and unfair operation.

“Since my election I have been involved in the efforts to disrupt this trade and in educating people on the tell-tale signs of a trafficked and farmed puppy – which includes being unable to see the pup with its mum, the seller not having a home address and from online adverts such as those on Gumtree.

“I was pleased to be able to hold the working group meeting in the Parliament where I was able to receive an update on efforts to disrupt the trade and on the ongoing operations at the Port of Cairnryan – where the number of illegal puppies seems to be on the rise.

“I look forward to continuing to work with all organisations and agencies involved as we move into 2020 – and again remind everyone to be mindful when buying a puppy of the tell-tale signs, and to try where possible to purchase a puppy from an assured breeder. A list of all can be found on the SSPCA website.” The Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, added:

“I want to take the opportunity to thank Emma Harper MSP for all the work that I know that she has done on this particular issue because I know it’s something that she has continued to raise and highlight and campaign on.”

“Under the commitment in our Programme for Government we have invested £300,000 to work with charities and enforcement agencies on a communications campaign on the risks of buying puppies advertised online and rehoming dogs that have been supplied from abroad.

“We are also taking forward a wide range of legislative measures to further tighten the rules around breeding and to disrupt the illegal puppy trade further.”

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said;

‘It has been fantastic to work with the Mairi Gougeon, Emma Harper and other MSPs at Holyrood to raise public awareness about the perils of the puppy trade.

‘Each year, we actively discourage buying a pet for Christmas. Along with our own collaborative #SayNoToPuppyDealers campaign, the Scottish Government’s Buy a Puppy Safely campaign helps reinforce the reality of illegal puppy farms in the minds of the public.

‘Unfortunately, the puppy trade in Scotland is a multi-million pound industry and many of these dogs are bred on large scale puppy farms with little to no regard for their welfare.

‘Many have serious health issues because of how they are bred and the conditions they are kept in. The worst cases can result in immediate, or prolonged, death.

‘The messaging is simple, if you don’t see mum or any paperwork then you need to walk away as these are signs that a puppy has come from an illegal puppy farm.

‘If anyone suspects an illegally farmed pup or dealer, contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.’

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