United Kingdom

Smuggled beagles rescued from van as puppy prices reach all time high

Dogs Trust found four beagle puppies in the back of a van in London amid fears the illegal puppy trade has exploded due to lockdown (Pictures: Beth Walsh/Dogs Trust)

Four tiny beagle puppies were rescued from the back of a van amid fears a huge lockdown demand for new dogs is fuelling the illegal smuggling trade. 

The eight week old hungry and dehydrated puppies were discovered in an abandoned van on a hot day in London in September, weighing just 2kg each. 

Dogs Trust say they’ve now rescued 100 illegally imported puppies since March and fear the beagles – named Biscuit, Bandit, Brian and Boo – are the latest victims of smugglers. 

New research from the charity shared exclusively with Metro.co.uk shows the price for beagle puppies increased by 151% to £1,414 in October compared to £563 in March.

Prices for all of the UK’s most desirable dog breeds increased month-on-month since lockdown began in March with an average rise of 71%, the research revealed.

Demand for dogs has also reached an all-time high, with Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ increasing by 115% and the number of online adverts increasing by 71% in the same time period. 

With legal breeders unable to keep up with demand, the smuggling trade has exploded leading to calls for more more regulation.

Dogs Trust’s Veterinary Director Paula Boyden said: ‘Given that the prices for pups have shot up significantly in recent months, it is no wonder criminals are continuing to cash in on such a lucrative market – but pups like Biscuit, Bandit, Brian and Boo pay the real price. 

The dogs were malnourished and dehydrated when they were found (Picture: Beth Walsh)
They are now being looked after by Dogs Trust staff (Picture: Beth Walsh)

Price increases for most popular dog breeds

  • 134% for Chow Chows – £2,618 in October compared to £1,119 in March 
  • 78% for Pugs – £1220 in October compared to £684 in March 
  • 73% for Dachshunds – £1,681 in October compared to £973 in March
  • 70% for French Bulldogs – £2,128 in October compared to £1,251 in March 
  • 49% for English Bulldogs – £2,436 in October compared to £1,637 in March

‘It’s unsurprising that the priciest dogs are desirable breeds and those that we so often see being illegally imported into the country. 

‘We have rescued many dogs like these four illegal beagles, which have been transported here in appalling conditions, destined to be sold on to unsuspecting dog lovers. 

‘Luckily, we were there to change the tale for Biscuit, Bandit, Brian and Boo but there has never been a more urgent need for the Government to act now to end this cruel trade.’

Dogs Trust staff found the beagles after a passer-by reported the van had a ‘strong smell emanating from it’. 

Dogs Trust has rescued 100 illegally imported puppies since lockdown began (Picture: Beth Walsh)

The puppies were seized and taken to see a vet. They are now being cared for by expert staff.

Potential dog buyers are being warned to avoid being ‘dogfished’ and not to inadvertently fuel the illegal importing trade by buying from dodgy dealers. 

Campaigners also want to see tougher penalties brought in for smuggling dogs. Currently very few cases have ever been prosecuted and sentences are longer for smuggling cigarettes than smuggling puppies.

Ms Boyden added: Action needs to be taken immediately, as too many puppies are suffering at the hands of cruel traders and too many dog lovers are being left to pick up the pieces. Every day of Government delay leads to preventable suffering for puppies and dogs.’

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