New legislation to crackdown on illegal puppy smuggling and to pave the way for a ban on the import of dogs with cropped ears has been hailed by the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

The measures form part of the new Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill introduced today (June 8) under Defra’s Action Plan on Animal Welfare, which was announced last month.

The bill also covers a ban on live animal exports for slaughter and fattening, a ban on keeping primates as pets, action on livestock worrying, and improvements to zoo regulations.

The BVA had previously raised awareness of the plight of pets that are illegally smuggled into Great Britain, sometimes by criminal gangs who dupe new owners into buying sick or poorly socialised pets.

The bill will reduce the number of animals that can travel under pet travel rules and introduce new powers that will enable the government to bring in new restrictions, such as increasing the minimum age that puppies can enter the country.

The #CutTheCrop campaign

These new powers will also enable the government to bring in measures to ban the import of dogs with cropped ears, which the BVA and The FOAL Group have campaigned for through the #CutTheCrop campaign, which has received over 104,000 signatures of support.

Welcoming action on illegal puppy smuggling, BVA president James Russell said:

"Every day veterinary practices see the devastating consequences of illegal pet smuggling.

Puppies that have been poorly bred and taken away from their mothers at a very young age often suffer from disease, other health problems, and poor socialisation leading to heartache and financial costs for new owners.

"We welcome changes to the law that will stop criminal gangs abusing pet travel rules for profit.

"We’re also delighted to see that the government has moved a step closer to a ban on the import of cropped and docked dogs putting an end to the alarming trend of ear cropping that vets have been calling for through our #CutTheCrop campaign.

"Taken together these measures will be a massive win for animal welfare."