DAERA and councils team up to stop illegal movement of dogs

Date published: 20 December 2018


The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), together with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, and Belfast City Council, recently conducted a series of checks at Northern Ireland’s ports aimed at stopping the illegal movement of dogs.

Between 3 and 10 December, DAERA and councils carried out more than 2,000 vehicle checks at Belfast and Larne ports. This joined-up working between DAERA and the councils resulted in 34 puppies being found that did not have the correct paperwork and, in some cases, were kept in inadequate conditions.

Speaking after the joint operation, Head of Animal Health and Welfare policy in DAERA Jackie Robinson said: “Trading in pups is viewed by some as a lucrative, low risk venture, and it can attract unlicensed breeders who have little regard for welfare standards. Animal welfare can be compromised at all stages of this illegal trade, from the dogs’ living and transportation conditions, their poor health, and their lack of socialisation.

“However, checks at Northern Ireland’s ports are carried out regularly to ensure that dogs being moved through the ports have the relevant paperwork and are in compliance with welfare and transport legislation. The illegal movement of dogs through our ports will not be tolerated.

“Anyone who may have information on the illegal movement of dogs or an illegal breeding establishment can contact the relevant authorities. Contact details are available on the DAERA website.”

Patricia Allen, Chair of the Local Government Animal Welfare Project Board, added: “Councils give a high priority to the welfare of domestic pets and operate a rigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirements.

“Councils are taking follow-up action in terms of the puppies found during this particular exercise. We will send out a clear message that we take robust action to ensure that the welfare of animals is protected.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. In Northern Ireland, district councils are responsible for the licensing of dogs under the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983, and for the registration and licensing of dog breeding premises under the Welfare of Animals (Dog Breeding Establishments and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013.
  2. Councils also have enforcement responsibility, under the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, in relation to pets and equines.  The 2011 Act makes provision for the protection of vertebrate animals in Northern Ireland.
  3. DAERA is responsible for the enforcement of the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006, and the movement of rabies susceptible species under the Pet Travel Scheme and Balai Directive (92/65 EC).
  4. In the lead-up to the operation, there has been liaison with relevant authorities in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
  5. Information, advice and guidance about responsible dog ownership, and practical guidance about sourcing a new pet, can be found on the DAERA website.
  6. Advice and guidance about animal welfare can be found on the nidirect website.
  7. A Code of Practice for the welfare of dogs can be found on the DAERA website.l
  8. Information on council licensing of dog breeding establishments, and associated contact details for councils, is available on the DAERA website.
  9. The department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the department’s internal records management system. The department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.
  10. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  11. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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