It is almost 40 years since Dogs Trust developed its famous slogan, ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ but it is sadly as relevant as ever, particularly now puppies can be bought online at the click of a button.

Since opening on its current site in 2006, Dogs Trust Leeds has found loving forever homes for more than 11,600 dogs but as Christmas approaches the team fear that once again, dogs bought as presents will be discarded even before the decorations are taken down.

Amanda Sands, Rehoming Centre Manager, says:

“Unfortunately once the thrill of welcoming a new pup has worn off and the reality of dog ownership sets in, they often become just another unwanted gift.

“Last year, we received a staggering 728 calls in the weeks following Christmas from owners wanting to give up their dog, which on average is 11 a day. That is so sad as dogs deserve to be treated as a member of the family. They aren’t disposable commodities; they are a huge commitment and should be for life.”

Since 2014, Dogs Trust has run three in-depth investigations into the illegal importation of puppies into Great Britain. It was found that puppies bred in Central and Eastern Europe are illegally transported thousands of miles to meet the growing demand from UK consumers, which spikes at Christmas time.

■ These pug puppies were transported in a wicker basket with cling film over the top

Amanda says:

“What these puppies go through is harrowing. Our most recent investigation found puppies transported thousands of miles in a basket covered in cling film, with just one tiny hole for them to breathe through. Another horrifying discovery was a litter of four-week-old puppies with umbilical cords still attached who had been subjected to a 30-hour journey in the back of a van.

“Thousands of these puppies are sold online to families who may then face the heartbreak and expense of a puppy who hasn’t had the correct vaccinations and is fighting for its life, and will have to be quarantined. It is hard to imagine what these new owners, and the pups, go through.”

Since 2015 Dogs Trust has provided care and quarantine for over 600 seized smuggled puppies, most of which have been designer breeds including French and English Bulldogs, Pugs and Dachshunds. 23 of these pups have been cared for at Dogs Trust Leeds.

Amanda continues:

“We urge people to think carefully before buying a puppy online, as doing so may mean well-meaning dog lovers are unknowingly fuelling the illegal puppy trade. These corrupt breeders and dealers don’t care about the puppies; they just want to make a profit from them.

“We’d also advise people to think very carefully before introducing a dog into their family at Christmas. It’s such a busy time and can be very stressful for puppies, and new owners.

“Of course we would encourage anyone who believes a dog is for life and wants to enjoy the wonderful benefits a canine companion can offer, to visit us and give a dog a second chance to have the wonderful life all dogs deserve.”

To find out more about the dogs looking for their special someone and for advice on all aspects of dog ownership visit www.dogstrust.org.uk.  To find out more about puppy smuggling and what you can do to help, visit;

www.puppysmuggling.org.ukRuben’s story

Ruben was smuggled into the country from Poland earlier this year, enduring a terrifying and harrowing journey of hundreds of miles along with three of his litter mates.

Having been seized at the border, Ruben was one of the lucky ones as he, along with his brothers and sisters, was taken into quarantine by Dogs Trust and he went on to find his forever home with Julie Howson and her daughter, Olivia, who live in Brighouse.

Julie says:

“He is adorable, absolutely brilliant! He has an incredible character, really cheeky and we love him to pieces.

“He sometimes takes a bit of persuading to go out as he loves his home comforts but once we’re out he loves it and gets on brilliantly with other dogs. He’s amazing!

■ Julie Howson adopted smuggled English Bulldog Ruben from Dogs Trust Leeds

“Ruben is my fourth rescue dog and I would really encourage people to adopt. The fact that puppies are smuggled purely for profit is appalling and cruel.

“If people find themselves in a situation where they think they may be about to buy a smuggled pup, please walk away however hard it is to leave the pup behind and report it to Trading Standards. As dog lovers we can help stop puppy smuggling by adopting and making sure we never buy a pup that we think may have been brought into the UK illegally.”

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