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Puppy passport fraud: Illegally imported puppies present rabies risk - and buyers face £1,000 quarantine bill




A growing number of puppies are being illegally imported and purchased by unsuspecting buyers in Cambridgeshire - who could face quarantine costs of up to £1,000 and the risk of exposure to rabies.

The county’s trading standards department issued a warning after witnessing the worrying trend of puppy passport fraud.

A dog that has been quarantined in Cambridgeshire after being illegally imported. Picture: Cambridgeshire trading standards (43618007)
A dog that has been quarantined in Cambridgeshire after being illegally imported. Picture: Cambridgeshire trading standards (43618007)

It has been driven by the spiralling price of puppies in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Before puppies are permitted to enter the UK, they must be microchipped, effectively vaccinated against rabies and wait a further three weeks in their country of origin.

A puppy must be 12 weeks old in order for a rabies vaccination to be effective and be at least 15 weeks old before travelling.

But trading standards said they were “increasingly seeing puppies with false passports, with incorrect dates of birth and ineffective vaccination records”.

This can lead to puppies being taken away from their new families for quarantining for several weeks. The bill for this - up to £1,000 - must be paid by their new owners.

Peter Gell, assistant director regulatory services at Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, said: “The UK has worked hard to remain rabies-free for almost 100 years, and it is imperative that we continue to tackle any activity that jeopardises this.

“That is not to say our officers find it easy to take puppies from their new families and place them into quarantine. It is extremely upsetting for the new owners, and finding the money to pay the quarantine costs can be challenging for many.

“I would urge anyone who is looking to buy a puppy ahead of Christmas and beyond to follow the advice above meticulously to ensure you and your puppy get off to the very best start.”

A dog that has been quarantined in Cambridgeshire after being illegally imported. Picture: Cambridgeshire trading standards (43618009)
A dog that has been quarantined in Cambridgeshire after being illegally imported. Picture: Cambridgeshire trading standards (43618009)

While puppies are not generally considered appropriate presents’ - hence the phrase ‘dogs are for life, not just for Christmas’ - trading standards urged anyone currently considering buying or rehoming a puppy to consider government advice at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/buying-a-cat-or-dog.

They also warned prospective buyers:

Be cautious when looking to buy an imported dog. It is difficult for a buyer to know if the rabies vaccination information contained within the Pet Passport has been forged.

View the puppy where it was bred and with its mother.

Never agree to have the puppy delivered to your home address or meet the seller in a car park for collection.

Ask to see all the documentation. This must clearly state the veterinary practice where the puppy injections were given.

Anyone who has concerns about a puppy they have purchased should contact their vet in the first instance.

If you would like to contact someone about suspected illegal puppy trading, call Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133, who will pass the details to the relevant local authority.

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