We have recently been contacted by Northamptonshire County Council to bring attention to the increasing number of illegally imported puppies being seen by the Animal Health Teams across the East Midlands Area. These puppies are bred in puppy farms across Europe, sold via adverts on the internet and in newspapers, and often come accompanied by incomplete, false and forged documentation which lead buyers to believe they have been imported legally or bred in the UK. This practice is a cause of concern both as the pups have often been bred poorly and are very young, and also due to the risk of them importing rabies into the UK.

Puppies are normally discovered by UK vets after they are taken for their first check up. If UK vets have any doubt over the legality of importation paperwork or if the microchip originates outside of the UK, they have a legal obligation to report this to the local Trading Standards Service to be investigated. This could result in quarantine and the associated fees.

Advice issued by Northamptonshire County Council to avoid this situation includes the following:

– Be suspicious if the seller cannot show you the puppy with its mother and litter mates. View the puppy where it was bred.

– Get as much information about where the puppy has come from and beware if the seller is from outside the UK.

– If the puppy has been vaccinated (MUST be 3 months old for Rabies) ask to see the documentation. This must clearly state the veterinary practice where this was carried out. Be suspicious if the address of the veterinary practice is outside the UK.

– If the seller informs you that the puppy has been brought in from another country it should have a pet passport with a valid rabies vaccination recorded in it. The date of the import must be at least 21 days after the date of rabies vaccination.

– NEVER agree to have the puppy delivered to your home address or to meet the seller to collect the puppy. If the seller wants you to do this be very suspicious.

– NEVER pay for a puppy in advance.

Further advice can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/buying-a-cat-or-dog and if you have any suspicions about a puppy or breeder these can be reported to Northamptonshire County Council via the Consumer Advice consumer service on 03454 040506 or by visiting www.adviceguide.org.uk.