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Warning about the risks of illegally imported dogs


The UK has seen a year on year increase in dogs being illegally brought in to the country, putting the health of other animals and the general public at risk.

This warning comes after three puppies in Gloucestershire have been quarantined this month. It is hoped that all will return home to their owners, after being checked for diseases such as rabies, which can easily be transmitted to other animals and humans.


The UK has been rabies free, except for a rare strain carried by some bats, since 1922. The disease is spread by the bite of an infected animal, or where infected saliva comes into contact with an open wound. It is a fatal disease to humans unless treated very soon after exposure, before symptoms develop.

Dogs with a pet passport can travel safely and securely without the need for long quarantine periods. Other animals covered by the passports include cats and ferrets all of which would have been vaccinated against rabies.

Anyone buying a dog from outside the UK should be aware that the dog:

  • Must be at least 15 weeks old
  • Must have a valid pet passport which means the dog must be micro-chipped, and have been vaccinated against rabies must have a tapeworm treatment between one and five days before its expected arrival in the UK
  • Must be brought in through an approved route

Head of trading standards at Gloucestershire County Council, Andy Hermiston, said: "Typically, illegally imported dogs form part of a black market where making money is put above the welfare of the animal. Of the three dogs taken into possession by our officers, one came from Poland where rabies is commonplace amongst the native wildlife. If you're in any doubt about the history of the animal, don't buy it and contact Trading Standards."

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