Scrap the puppy trade

puppies on scrapheap

In 2013 the UK Government brought in new laws to tackle the criminal scrap metal trade in England. But now it's puppies who are being traded like scrap with no regard for their welfare, or even if they live or die.

Puppy trafficking is big business with dealers getting rich and leaving a trail of dead puppies and heartbroken families in their wake.

Read our report "Sold a pup?" Exposing the breeding, trade and sale of puppies' to find out just how dire the situation is for dogs, and what we are doing to tackle unscrupulous puppy breeders and dealers.

Join us in telling the UK Government that puppies are more precious than pieces of metal - it's time to Scrap the Puppy Trade.

Sign the petition to #ScrapPuppyTrade

I’m calling on the UK Government to act urgently and introduce the ‘Puppy Dealers Act’ in England to stop the unscrupulous trade in puppies. The RSPCA believes huge numbers of sick, under-age and dying puppies - sold to unsuspecting buyers for huge profits, and most likely costing the economy huge sums in untaxed income - are being trafficked into the UK each year.


About the campaign

The RSPCA believes that huge numbers of sick, under-age and dying puppies are being illegally trafficked into the UK each year.

These puppies have had a very unpleasant start to life. Many are born on puppy farms across Europe, their mothers used as breeding machines to keep up with the high demand for puppies in the UK.

Bought in bulk by dealers looking for the highest profit margin. In many cases the puppies are too young to be away from their mothers when they are loaded onto vans like cargo before travelling hundreds of miles. Just imagine for a second how frightening that would be...

Take action

puppy in poor health
A frightening start to life

The Puppy Dealers Act

It is far too easy to sell puppies and current laws are failing puppies and their parents. The RSPCA wants to see the UK Government treat the issue of puppy dealing in England as seriously as they did scrap metal.

To try and hit puppy trade as a whole - from organised illegal trafficking to opportunistic backstreet breeding - we believe more of the focus must be on selling. That’s why we’re calling for mandatory licensing for anyone selling puppies in England. This would mean:

  • Anyone selling a puppy must have a licence.
  • Strong penalties & fines for anyone caught selling a puppy without a licence.
  • A national database of puppy sellers (funded by licence fees) to aid enforcement.
  • All internet and offline advertisers (like Pets4Homes, PreLoved, Friday Ad) must display the licence number of the seller in order to list an advert.

While this would not stop illegal trading altogether, it would help to remove the huge layer of unregulated puppy dealing we’re currently battling, it would give local authorities the tools they need to act and improve protections for puppy buyers.

Tackling this type of organised crime will not be easy, it will take legislative change, multi agency working and unprecedented levels of public support but we’re determined to put the puppy dealers out of business.

Take action

Imported puppy found in van
Puppies found in a van at the port of Dover

Meet the victims

  • Crumpet

    Crumpet, a Cockapoo puppy was bought by her new owner Kimberley, but just two weeks after she came home, Crumpet died.

    Kimberley responded to an advert and spoke to a pleasant man before arranging to pick up Crumpet. The house was a typical semi-detached family home and the people seemed to really care about dogs. But even on the journey home Crumpet began retching and Kimberly noticed that he had scabs all over his body. A few days later, she became worried as Crumpet deteriorated and rushed him to the vet where he was diagnosed with deadly and highly contagious parvovirus.

    Unbeknownst to Kimberly, she had bought Crumpet from a notorious puppy dealer who was being investigated by the RSPCA and police for illegally importing and selling sick and dying puppies.

    She said: “This experience has massively affected my family, especially my six year old daughter who loved Crumpet so much."

    Please act now for puppies like Crumpet.

  • Nacho

    Pomeranian puppy Nacho had been bought by Leanne as a 22nd birthday present to herself. But excitement soon turned to heartache as Nacho quickly became seriously ill and was rushed to the vets.

    Leanne, was just one of hundreds of people duped by rogue puppy dealers posing as dog-loving breeders.

    The day after getting Nacho home Leanne said her puppy was suffering from diarrhoea and rushed him straight to the vets. After two days of tests Nacho’s health was still deteriorating and it was found he was suffering from pneumonia. It was also found that he had a hernia between his heart and lungs and would need an operation to remove it.

    Sadly, just six days later Nacho took a turn for the worse and Leanne made the difficult decision to put him to sleep.

    She said: “I held him in my arms. He was just so tiny. All skin and bones. He was still gorgeous but just so very ill. The vet gave him the injection and he died there in my arms.”

    Please act now for puppies like Nacho.

Report a dealer

Puppy dealers could be profiting from cruelty in your very street. One of the biggest cases of illegal puppy trading the RSPCA has uncovered only came to our attention after an attempted burglary where puppies were found at the property by police.

If you see suspicious activity such as:

  • Different puppies frequently being brought in and out of a particular house or location
  • Sounds of dogs barking or whining from seemingly unoccupied houses where there are suspicious amounts of regular visitors.
  • High frequency of puppies being sold where the same phone number is used on different adverts.

We need the public to be our eyes and ears. If you see something suspicious, please report it to your local police, local authority, trading standards and the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

Take action