Morley and Outwood MP Andrea Jenkyns tells how she unwittingly bought her dog from a cruel 'puppy farm' as she aims to raise awareness of puppy smuggling
A Yorkshire MP aiming to raise awareness of puppy smuggling has described the moment she realised she had unwittingly bought one of her own pets from a cruel 'puppy farm' for breeding dogs.
Morley and Outwood MP Andrea Jenkyns said she was "duped" into getting Godiva, her Miniature Schnauzer, in 2011 from a puppy farm in Lincolnshire which was later closed down.
The Conservative said the site "presented itself as a wonderful place" and was clean with places to buy a pet bed and food.
But speaking on Pod's Own Country, The Yorkshire Post's political podcast, she said Godiva had been treated so badly that she'd never seen grass before and "started howling when I put her in the garden".
According to the PDSA charity, a puppy farm is where multiple dogs are continually bred and the puppies sold. The animals are kept in poor conditions as the 'breeders' don't care for their health and happiness.
Puppy farms tend to have far more breeds and dogs from puppy farms can be unwell, leading to potential heartache for the unwitting owners who take them on.
Mrs Jenkyns said she didn't find out that Godiva had come from a puppy farm until she became an MP in 2015 and started working with charities on the issues.
She said: "And I happened to mention, I won't mention the name of the premises where I bought it from but it was because I got it from Lincolnshire, you don't keep an eye on the news there.
"But it was actually speaking to these charities and they said 'oh, do you realise that that got closed down? That was one of the puppy farms'.
"But Godiva is a wonderful dog. She's with us. She's 11 now and I just think back to that sad moment when she'd never even seen grass. And she's a very clingy dog, bless her."
The Brexiteer MP said the reason for the rise in puppy smuggling was the pet travel scheme introduced by the European Union in 2012 which allowed one person to bring in five pets on one passport.
She said: "So you'd be getting men with vans, puppy smugglers, three or four men in a van, each being able to bring five puppies themselves, and bring them over to the UK, but their start in life is really dire."
Last year a ban on third party sales of puppies and kittens, otherwise known as ‘Lucy’s Law’, came into force in England after lobbying by TV vet Marc Abraham.
This measure to tackle puppy smuggling requires all dogs under six months of age to be bought directly from the breeder or from a rescue centre.
But Mrs Jenkyns said: "It can still happen because they find more ways of actually avoiding the law. But I know that earlier this month, the Government launched a government action plan for animal welfare.
"And this actually includes looking at puppy smuggling, and they're actually working with the crime unit to actually see ways of how these unscrupulous puppy smugglers avoid the law and look at how we can catch them at it, tougher penalties for puppy smuggling to deter deceitful sellers.
"But I think the most important thing that we can do is raise awareness because if there's not a demand there, then it's going to be harder for them to sell it."
She said anyone considering buying a puppy should be aware of the warning signs and if they see an online advert for a puppy should go and see the animal before buying.
And she said: "Always be mindful if you see pictures of the puppies, where they're not with their mother and when you actually visit to collect the pet, if it's not with a mother, then alarm bells can just start ringing.
"Because the puppy smugglers they even can rent a place and make out you're going into somebody's home to actually sell these puppies who have had a horrible start in life.
"So always ask to see the mum and ask if it's been imported. And if it's under 15 weeks, then that means it would have been illegally imported. And expect the breeder to be asking lots of questions as well, because a responsible breeder should be making sure that their puppies go to a good home.
"So the warning signs are that if you can't view the puppy with a mum, there's no image of the mum on the advert, it's just an image of the pups on their own."