Illegal Puppy trade in parliament debate

Emma Harper MSP with John Chisholm and SNP minister Roseanna Cunningham.
Emma Harper MSP with John Chisholm and SNP minister Roseanna Cunningham.

South of Scotland MSP Emma Harper welcomed the SSPCA and two pups rescued from illegal traffickers to the Scottish Parliament.

The MSP led a Members’ Business debate on Wednesday, 21 December at Holyrood to highlight the practice of illegal puppy trafficking.

The partnership in Galloway between ferry operator Stena Line and the SSPCA was highlighted in the Parliament.

Speaking in the Chamber, Emma said: “10% of puppies in the UK come from licensed breeders. The other 90% of dogs are imported, rescued or come from unlicensed breeders. It is estimated that illegal trafficking could be worth between £100 million to £300 million annually. It’s a tax avoidance - cash economy.

“Many hundreds even thousands - of puppies are trafficked illegally every year through the port of Cairnryan, from Ireland, the EU and Northern Ireland then to Scotland without legal documents including EU pet passports These dogs come from industrial sized farms which don’t support best animal welfare practices.

“I would like to credit the Campaigners Eileen Bryant - who is here today - and Raymond Carvill who established the local group. They have worked closely with the SSPCA’s investigations unit, Mark Rafferty and his team – also in the gallery – and the trading standards staff of D&G Council. These people deserve credit for their work so far

“One of the issues is in the welfare of these puppies that are being bred in industrial sized numbers in factory-like conditions.

“As many as 500 bitches have been verified in one facility. How can a bitch and pups receive the human contact that they need to be a good pet if they are not afforded human contact when bred in such massive numbers?

“On an optimistic note - action is being taken. The SSPCA’s impressive Operation Delphin is a partnership with the ferry operator - Stena Line and Police Scotland, and HMRC which is set up to fight the illegal trade.

The fact that these organizations have worked together so effectively is testament to everyone’s commitment to tackle the trafficking and welfare issues I have highlighted.

“Scotland is a country of animal lovers, and I believe that part of the task facing us is to make the public aware of the horrors of the trade, and encourage best puppy purchasing practice.

“Anyone buying a puppy should ensure they see the dogs in a homely environment with the pups mother.”

Chief Inspector John Chisholm said, “We are currently working alongside partner organisations in Operation Delphin to tackle the multi-million pound puppy farming industry.”