A WARRINGTON MP has joined forces with Dogs Trust to call on the Government to stop the illegal importation of puppies into the UK.

Andy Carter, MP for Warrington South, backed the UK’s largest dog welfare charity with its new parliamentary Puppy Smuggling Taskforce.

Every year, thousands of puppies are illegally imported into Great Britain to be sold through online adverts to unsuspecting dog lovers.

Many have been transported thousands of miles across Europe with little water and no food, exercise or toilet breaks.

These puppies can suffer significant health problems and lifelong behavioural challenges.

Some don’t survive, leaving their buyers helpless and heartbroken – as well as out of pocket.

Andy Carter said: "I am delighted to join the Puppy Smuggling Taskforce and support Dogs Trust in their efforts to raise awareness of and tackle the abhorrent puppy smuggling trade.

"At a time when demand for dogs in the UK has never been higher, I want to urge my constituents to really do their research before buying a puppy advertised for sale online, as it’s all too easy to be duped into buying a dog that’s been illegally smuggled into the country.

"Dogs Trust has been campaigning on this issue for many years now, and I’m proud to be able to say I’m part of the Puppy Smuggling Taskforce to help put a stop to puppies needlessly suffering at the hands of criminals."

For more than six years, the charity has been calling on the Government to end puppy smuggling, after exposing this trade through four undercover investigations.

Dogs Trust is calling on the Government to raise the minimum age for puppies to be imported into the UK to six months to help make them less desirable.

It also wants to bring in tougher penalties for smuggling pups to deter deceitful sellers.

Dogs Trust’s veterinary director, Paula Boyden, said: "Sadly, we continue to see more and more heartbreaking examples of puppies being illegally imported into the country.

"Puppy smugglers are making vast profits by exploiting innocent puppies, breeding and transporting them in appalling conditions to sell onto dog lovers here in the UK.

"There has never been a more urgent need to end the appalling puppy smuggling trade.

"Enough is enough - Government must take immediate action as too many puppies are suffering at the hands of cruel traders and too many dog lovers are being left to pick up the pieces.

"We are grateful to Andy Carter MP for his support in joining the parliamentary Puppy Smuggling Taskforce to stop this cruel trade."

To find out more, visit dogstrust.org.uk/news-events/issues-campaigns/puppy-smuggling/.