Gedling borough families looking to buy a puppy this Christmas are being warned that buying an illegally imported pet could lead them into trouble.
Dogs bought from illegal dealers could leave them with vet bills running into hundreds of pounds, they have been warned.
Nottingham County Council’s Trading Standards team has the powers to place an illegally imported dog, cat or other mammal into quarantine for a minimum 21 days if it has not been microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and parasites, or does not have a valid pet passport under current UK and European legislation.
The owner could face quarantine costs of over £500 or the prospect of the animal being exported back to the country of origin or being euthanised.
Buying from illegal puppy farms and importers also increases the chances of the animal being sick.
The council has had three separate incidents involving counterfeit or incorrect pet passports this year involving a total of six animals which were imported from various European countries.
This is a slight decrease from 2015 when the Council was seizing an average of one animal per month during the first half of the year.
Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, chair of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Community Safety Committee, said: “Although less illegally imported animals are being seized locally as more are being caught at the point of entry into the UK, buying a dog this way fuels this cruel and potentially dangerous trade.
“Unfortunately, people can be tempted by cheap online deals for a sought after pedigree dog without realising they are buying a pet that has been illegally imported.
“Not only does this trade impact on animal welfare, it increases the buyer’s chances of a much bigger bill further down the line and being in the heart breaking position of handing your pet over to a quarantine for at least three weeks.
“Above all, our priority is to reduce the risk of such animals having rabies when the UK is currently a rabies-free zone.”
The Council has the following tips to avoid buying a dog from an illegal dealer:
• always go to a reputable breeder and be prepared to be put on a waiting list
• visit the puppy at home with its mother to see how the puppy behaves and the conditions it is being raised in
• buy from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder if buying a pedigree dog as these breeders must follow rules to protect the health of the puppies they sell
• imported puppies must be at least 15 weeks old so if they are younger they are illegal
• ask to see the relevant health test certificates for the puppy’s parents
• consider rehoming an older dog from an animal rescue centre.
People can report concerns about an illegal puppy farmer or importer by contacting the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.