Environmental Health Officers at Liverpool City Council are warning residents to beware of buying an illegally imported puppy.
The warning comes after council officers had to seize and order that a sick puppy was put to sleep on welfare grounds, because it had been smuggled into Britain in contravention of strict rules designed to keep rabies out of the country.
A Liverpool resident purchased a British Bulldog for £1,300 from an East European couple in Yorkshire after seeing an advert on a pet sales website. The health of the puppy deteriorated shortly after it was purchased.
The puppy was taken to a vet in Liverpool who diagnosed the animal with distemper, a serious and often fatal viral infection. The vet also noticed discrepancies in the dog’s pet passport from Romania that indicated that the puppy had not been effectively vaccinated against rabies.
The dog was seized by Environmental Health Officers so that it could be sent to quarantine kennels. Sadly, the dog was too ill to be sent to quarantine and Council officers had no choice but to have the puppy put to sleep.
Strict rules are in place to prevent rabies, a disease that is deadly to humans and animals, being brought into the country.
Dogs imported from Europe must have a pet passport confirming they are micro-chipped, vaccinated against rabies and have been treated for tapeworms. They cannot be imported if they are aged less than 15 weeks old because the rabies vaccination can only be given to dogs aged over 12 weeks and takes three weeks to become effective.
Council officers have investigated several cases of pedigree breeds of dog being illegally smuggled from Eastern Europe and sold to Liverpool residents. The trade in illegally imported dogs is a national problem.
Owners of smuggled dogs face having their dog seized and sent to quarantine kennels for several weeks, which is likely to result in them being given a bill for nearly £1,000 for the cost of their dog staying in quarantine.
Councillor Steve Munby, Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, said: “This is a sad case that illustrates the risk in buying an imported puppy. Pedigree puppies are often bred in appalling conditions on puppy farms in Eastern Europe and are then smuggled into the country avoiding the strict controls to prevent the spread of rabies, a potentially deadly disease.
“Although you might think that you are getting a bargain by buying a dog cheaply through a website, you risk being left with a very substantial quarantine bill or the heartbreak of your dog being put to sleep. I would urge people to exercise care when buying a puppy.“
Potential purchasers are advised to buy dogs from reputable breeders and should always go to see the puppy in person before buying it. The puppy should always be seen with its mother. Customers should check the vaccination card, but should be aware that if the vet’s contact details are not visible or the vet has a non-UK address, the card may be false.
For imported puppies, ask to see the pet passport or vet’s certificate confirming it is micro-chipped, vaccinated against rabies, treated for worms and was older than 15 weeks when it was imported.”