A WARNING has gone out in Hampshire after four families were misled into buying illegally-imported puppies from what they believed to be legitimate websites.
The county’s Trading Standards officers are advising people to be extra cautious when buying puppies from internet sites and to make sure they do not part with any money without being certain of the animal’s origin.
It follows Trading Standards being alerted to four cases in the last month involving families in Basingstoke and Alton who inadvertently bought puppies who had been imported illegally from Eastern Europe.
Three of the animals had not been vaccinated correctly and one vaccinated puppy had its papers doctored to make it seem younger than it was.
Trading Standards say such animals are often sold over the internet from sites that at first glance look as if they are UK suppliers. Consumers can end up paying more than £1,000 for the puppies only to find that they have to go into quarantine when it is discovered that the animals have been illegally imported.
Trading Standards have been working with the victims, vets and partner agencies to trace the vendors.
They say the best advice is to view any puppy and its documents before buying. If this is not possible, purchasers should enquire about the puppy’s history and if there is any doubt to speak to their vet or Trading Standards before agreeing to buy.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Cllr Ken Thornber, said:
"Importing puppies illegally poses significant health risks to humans and other animals as the dogs can carry all kinds of diseases and pests. Animals imported into the UK without the correct papers to show that they have been properly vaccinated must be quarantined before they can be united with their new owners.
"Depending on the condition of the puppy and its country of origin, if it turns out that the animal has not had essential vaccinations people can be left with hefty quarantine bills.”
One of the victims, a woman from Basingstoke, said: "It’s been very upsetting to us all, we’d only had the puppy a few hours before he was taken into quarantine. I have children and they’ve all been crying about it.
"It’s traumatising for them to have their puppy taken away so soon after we brought him home. We’ve all been down to visit him at the kennels but it’s not the same and has also cost us a lot of money.
"The first 12 weeks are the most important in a dog’s life – when they get used to socialising and their surroundings but he’s been stuck in a kennel and will probably be very nervous when we finally get him back.”