Puppies are being smuggled into Britain from illegal farms in Ireland
Criminal gangs are making millions in what is being called "the new drugs."
Ireland is being used to smuggle puppies into Britain by gangs due to a lack of enforcement of animal welfare laws, the Seanad has heard.
Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan said the dogs, which are bred in Ireland, are being transported across the Border into the North and then moved to Britain by the gangs - depriving the Revenue Commissioners of millions of euro in tax.
"There is a raft of animal welfare laws in this country and they are just not being enforced," she said "That’s not good enough.”
She said the puppies are advertised on different websites with "fake microchip numbers, fake dog-breeding licence numbers and fake seller numbers."
Animal welfare groups have been reporting the illegal advertisements on a daily basis, but no action has been taken against them.
Today I raised the @BBCSpotlightNI report into puppy smuggling and how criminal gangs are using Irish ports to smuggle dogs into Britain. I outlined some of the measures that we could take in the South to enforce the existing laws and legislation that we need to introduce. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/fiJfHzMLKq
— Lynn Boylan 🍷📖🐾 (@LNBDublin) October 20, 2021
A BBC Spotlight Northern Ireland investigative report with the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals exposed the issue on Tuesday. They believe criminal gangs have dropped the drug trade to focus on puppy trafficking which is estimated to have a value of £150 million a year.
The animal welfare charity said many puppies are raised in extremely dirty conditions on farms in Ireland and are often malnourished or diseased. They believe up to one third of the puppies die when received by their new owners who can pay thousands of pounds for them.
Mike Flynn from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told BBC Spotlight: "For the puppy trade in Scotland, I would say 90% of all problems come through Belfast. To me, it's the new drugs."
— BBC Spotlight NI (@BBCSpotlightNI) October 19, 2021
Senator Boylan told the Seanad that a microchip system could be put in place to help with the issue, similar to the system for cars.
"After a number is entered, the system would identify the breed and age of the dog and the name of the person it is registered. This is not rocket science.”
Under the Animal Health and Welfare Act, dogs that are seized at Irish ports cannot be re-homed within five days, as they could if they were seized under the Control of Dogs Act.
Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who has to hold on to some of the puppies for up to 18 months while legal proceedings take place said it is bad for both the dog and the animal welfare organisation.