While the Eurotunnel’s Travel Ban began as a positive step forward in clamping down on inhumane puppy smuggling, it’s brought an unfortunate set of problems for the charities working to save these very dogs that are disadvantaged.
For a subject that’s so divided, just what exactly is the answer?
What are the rules for taking pets on the Eurotunnel?
The Eurotunnel Travel Ban was brought in on 19 November 2020 and restricts the transportation of dogs in quantities of more than 5 across the Eurotunnel. The Pet Transport statement claims:
“It was brought in due to a recent increase in the number of vehicles arriving at our terminal carrying large numbers of animals, and we had concerns for the welfare of some of those animals”.
But it has been a longstanding worry that mistreated and malnourished puppies are being brought in cheaply and sold on to puppy farms and websites such as Gumtree. However, it has gained much more coverage after the social media influencer Molly Mae Hague shared that her dog, Mr Chai, died after only a few days of being in the country due to his skull not being fully developed.
In light of this, preventing overseas breeders from selling puppies on an industrial scale is a positive thing. But while it’s good news that these people are being blocked from continuing with poor practice, it’s also a significant roadblock for UK and overseas charities that are rescuing dogs from the streets abroad and having them adopted in the UK.
How the Eurotunnel pet restrictions affect charities
In some countries, strays on the streets are mistreated or left to die, and it’s this that’s seen a rise in adopting dogs from other countries of Europe here in the UK.
Many of the charities working to find better homes for these dogs are now concerned about the new regulations, with many dogs now in limbo as they’re waiting to be brought over to their new adopted families. A lot of these charities are at full capacity and can not afford to take on new dogs when many of the animals due to be adopted can no longer leave.
The Eurotunnel has attempted to alleviate this pressure by ensuring that these restrictions do not apply to registered charities or Eurotunnel Le Shuttle business account holders, where they can be assured that animal welfare standards are being observed.
But many rescue groups do not qualify for this exemption. One is Dogs 4 Rescue, a two-person team based in Manchester that works on behalf of Street Hearts Bulgaria. Like many other charities, the organisation is registered as a community interest company, which means it does not meet the ‘registered charity’ qualification.
Charities like Dogs 4 Rescue and Street Hearts Bulgaria have been desperately trying to navigate the new rules over the last couple of weeks and have been working tirelessly to get all the correct documentation in place in the hopes to get awaiting dogs to their forever home. And sadly, these delays are only going to continue for charities working in partnership with shelters abroad.
What does the future look like for these charities?
The Eurotunnel has stated that if people wish to travel with between 6 to 20 animals per vehicle, then they must:
- Provide an Approved Type 2 licence and Vehicle Approved Certificate
- Be either a registered charity or an organisation with a Eurotunnel business account
While it may be a step forward, it may have to be revised to allow community interest companies to continue their good work and to ensure that bad breeders don’t find a way around it.
To stamp down on breeders smuggling in puppies when they’re too young, the minimum age could be increased. Breeders should have official documentation to prove their age, and tougher laws against UK puppy farms will ensure that breeders are not able to sell puppies on a wide scale. But as of yet, these things are not fully in place.
If you’re considering buying a puppy and are concerned about finding a responsible breeder, we would suggest private breeders that are Kennel Club registered, have just one litter where the mum is present and where there is the correct documentation.