To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of changes introduced by her Department to the EU pet travel scheme which came into force on 29 December 2014 on illegal imports of puppies to the UK from other EU countries; what discussions she has had with her EU counterparts on abuse of the PETS system to illegally import puppies for sale; and if she will make a statement.
A new EU Pet Travel Regulation (576/2013) came into force on 29 December 2014 and introduced changes designed to improve the security of the scheme and traceability of the pet passport. These changes include a requirement that pets must be at least 12 weeks old when they are vaccinated against rabies. This means that, under the new EU rules, pets must be at least 15 weeks old to enter the UK.
Responsibility for stopping the illegal movement of puppies begins in the country where they are born, where the authorities have a duty to ensure that the welfare of pets intended for sale is safeguarded and that EU pet passports are issued correctly. Following a recent report by the Dogs Trust ‘The Puppy Smuggling Scandal’ published in November 2014, the Chief Veterinary Officer wrote to the authorities in the countries highlighted in the report and follow up action has been taken. Defra officials will continue to act on reports of abuse of the pet travel scheme.