Staff at a dog rescue centre know only too well the heartbreak the practice of illegally smuggling puppies into Bedfordshire is causing unsuspecting owners.
Coral Browne, who runs ARAS dog rehoming centre, said smuggled puppies are at huge risk of disease and she witnessed ten cases of illegal dogs dying suddenly around Christmas time alone.
She, and her 14 stone dog Sam, who she believes was once smuggled into the county, invited East of England MEP Richard Howitt to the centre as part of his campaign to save a proposed European law that would “eradicate puppy smuggling in Bedfordshire over night”.
Mr Howitt is also Vice President of the RSPCA and is one of the key figures proposing a move to microchip all cats and dogs in the European Union within four weeks of birth. This would give would be owners more certainty than ever before that their pet has not been illegally smuggled.
But plans to debate the issue in the European Parliament have now been delayed.
Mr Howitt said: “This illegal trade hugely impacts upon the health and welfare of the animals involved.
“Many of these smuggled puppies are born into inhumane conditions, are not house trained and transported great distances.
“This is an issue that I have received hundreds of emails about and it is very, very important to my constituents.
He added: “I will not give up the fight to end puppy smuggling and I will fight to take their concerns to the very heart of European law.”