My hon. Friend highlights not only that dogs can help people with certain tasks that they are unable to do themselves, but that a dog is a part of the family and an individual’s life. For many elderly people, their dog becomes their life, so if they lose a dog and then buy the wrong type of puppy—it might be diseased or have huge behavioural problems—that becomes a serious social issue as well. It is imperative, therefore, that we deal with the situation.
The Minister has many weapons in his armoury already, but there is not enough enforcement. Are we tracking vans coming through the ports of Dover and elsewhere with illegal puppies? Are we checking them? Do we know what is coming in? Are we checking the microchips already in dogs? According to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and Blue Cross, only a third of the microchips they see in puppies and dogs are accurate. Not only do puppies need to be properly microchipped, but we need a national database to trace where dogs have come from.
If we ignore this situation, I fear it will get worse. People have got so used to buying clothes, shoes or whatever on the internet that unfortunately they think they can do the same with puppies. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have strongly made the argument that, for goodness sake, when someone buys a puppy, they should make sure they know where it has come from, have seen its mother, have seen where it has been bred and know how the mother behaved, so that they know what they are bringing into their home and can have a successful and loving pet. That is what people in this country believe in. The vast majority of people do a good job, but we have to stamp down hard on the rogues in our society.