Follow advice when buying a puppy

Liverpool City Council is warning people thinking about buying a puppy to follow its advice to avoid buying an illegally imported, and possibly sick puppy.

The warning comes as council Environmental Health Officers investigate an illegally imported puppy which was sold by a Liverpool resident to a customer in Scotland.

The customer bought a cocker spaniel after seeing the puppy advertised on the Gumtree website. A vet became suspicious when the dog was given a routine check-up. When the dog’s microchip and vaccination records were checked, the dog was found to have been illegally imported without being vaccinated against rabies. The puppy has been seized by a  council in Scotland and will remain in quarantine for several weeks. The owner has been left with a bill for £1500 to pay for the quarantine costs.

The trade in smuggled puppies is a national problem. Liverpool Council, in line with dealing with several cases each year. Expensive pedigree dogs, such as French bulldogs and pugs, are often smuggled from Eastern Europe and are sold to the public through websites. These dogs are often not correctly vaccinated against rabies.

Dogs imported from Europe must have a pet passport confirming they are micro-chipped, vaccinated against rabies and have been treated for worms. 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 twelve weeks and takes three weeks to become effective.

Councilor Steve Munby, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said “Although the UK has been free from rabies for many years, it is still a problem in some parts of Europe. There are strict controls that are designed to stop rabies spreading to Britain.

“Smuggled puppies may come from puppy farms, where welfare standards are often very poor. The trade in smuggled puppies also risks bringing rabies, a deadly disease, into the country.

“If you buy a smuggled dog, you risk being left with expensive quarantine and veterinary bills or the possibility of your dog being put down. I would urge potential buyers to be very vigilant when choosing 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.