Danny Kinahan in plea over illegal sale of puppies
Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan has urged charities, police services and UK and devolved governments to work together to stop the illegal sale of dogs.
According to the RSPCA, he said, the puppy market in the last three years had changed, with the number of imported animals increasing to more than 60,000 a year coming from places such as the Republic, Lithuania and Hungary.
Speaking during a Westminster debate on the welfare of young dogs bred for sale, the South Antrim MP said: "I thank all those across the United Kingdom who work tirelessly to combat the illegal puppy trade, especially the Dog's Trust who were central to the facilitation of today's debate.
"Various figures were claimed during the debate but I am deeply ashamed of the statistic that 40,000 dogs have come from the Republic via Northern Ireland to Great Britain. Part of this criminal world is linked to the illegal cross-border trade of cigarette smuggling and fuel laundering and must be met with the full force of the PSNI and NCA.
"The constituent parts of the UK and the Republic must work closely together to mount an effective joined-up approach to thwart any such illegal activity through the sharing of information and resources."
Farm Minister George Eustice said the Government's consultation reviewing licensing around animal establishments closed at the end of the week.
It was looking, he said, at tightening current provisions to put it beyond doubt that internet trading required a pet shop licence and banning the sale of puppies under eight weeks old.
On enforcement, the Government, he said, was looking at the idea of introducing an accreditation system, where responsible puppy breeders could be exempt from requiring a licence so local authority resources were freed up to go after those currently off the system altogether.