A new drive to help crack down on puppy smuggling has been launched by Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, during a visit to the Stena Line Terminal at Belfast Harbour.
It is part of the wider ’Paws for Thought” campaign which aims to disrupt the trafficking of low welfare pups through Northern Ireland’s ports.
Promotional posters will be placed at ferry terminals in Belfast and Larne to show the grim realities of puppy smuggling and encourage people to report any signs of suspicious activity related to this trade. This will be supported by a targeted social media campaign.
Members of the public are also being asked to be vigilant when using Northern Ireland’s ferry ports and to contact the appropriate authority if they think they have any information which would help stop the illegal movement of dogs.
Speaking at the poster launch, Minister Poots said: “Puppy smugglers and traffickers transport puppies in poor conditions to sell them at an inflated price in Great Britain. Innocent animal lovers are often duped into believing these pups have come from a reputable breeder.
“My Department and partner agencies are leading the battle to stamp out this abhorrent trade. The recent seizure of over 60 animals, including puppies and a cat, by the PSNI at Belfast Harbour was a significant step in targeting those involved.
“But we need the public’s help to crack down on these highly organised crime gangs. I would encourage anyone with information about this criminal activity to pass it on to either my Department, the Harbour Police, councils or the PSNI.”
DAERA enforcement staff work continue to work in close partnership with the other statutory agencies, Belfast Harbour and Larne Port Teams, to conduct routine and targeted inspections, by tracking movements and utilising information received.
Under the initiative, DAERA has formed a multi-agency group with representatives from local councils, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Belfast Harbour Police, PSNI and ferry companies to discuss and cultivate better ways of working and address the significant issues created by illegal dog breeding and smuggling.
The Paws for Thought multi-agency group said: “Puppy smuggling into the UK is a significant issue and in Northern Ireland they can be transported into GB by ferry and sold on for huge profit. Money is the only motivation and no thought is given to the welfare of the puppies. We would urge members of the public who see something suspicious to report it.
“DAERA and its partner enforcement agencies involved in the #PawsForThought campaign are determined to investigate, detect and where possible prosecute offenders in order to protect the welfare of the animals which often suffer in this illegal trade.”
Notes to editors:
- Photo caption: DAERA Minister Edwin Poots is pictured with (L-R) Sandrine Gunst, Divisional Veterinary Officer DAERA, Deputy Lord Mayor Michelle Kelly, Graeme Mutter, HMRC, Inspector Ashley Wright, Belfast Harbour Police and Ann Healy, DAERA Veterinary Portal Team as they launch a new crackdown on puppy smuggling.
- HMRC has recovered more than £18 million in lost taxes since the formation of a taskforce dedicated to detect, investigate and prevent tax evasion in the puppy trader industry.
- The Paws for Thought multi agency group includes representatives from DAERA, Belfast City Council, Mid and East Antrim Council, Belfast Harbour Police, PSNI, Stena Line, P&O and HMRC.
- More information on buying a puppy and the ‘Paws for Thought’ initiative can be found on the DAERA website.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
- DAERA seeks six new Members for CAFRE’s College Advisory Group 22 September 2022
- Drinking Water Quality remains high across Northern Ireland 22 September 2022
- Re-opening of Tier 1 of FBIS Capital focus on higher input costs 22 September 2022
- Still time to get your EFS Wider Tranche 6 application in - Poots 21 September 2022