An MEP has called for action to stop the illegal trade in smuggled puppies.

Richard Howitt, Essex Euro MP and a national vice president of the RSPCA, visited Danaher Animal Home in Hedingham Road, Wethersfield, to meet staff and volunteers and raise awareness of the need to buy puppies from legitimate sources.

He said: “I’m leading the fight with the RSPCA in Europe for a tougher regime of licensing and registration to ensure the illegal trade in smuggled puppies is halted.

“The illegal trade of puppies across Europe is big business and one that must be brought out of the shadows.

“Research shows that up to one in five dogs brought in the UK may come via a puppy farm, whether from within the UK or from elsewhere in Europe.

“Many puppies sold from this trade also suffer from severe behavioural problems, meaning they can be very difficult to keep as pets.

“Moreover, some 60 per cent of infectious diseases to humans originate in animals.

“With puppies being trades illegally across the EU, without proper checks and often in dire conditions, the threat to human and animal health is both present and dangerous.”

For more information on how to buy a puppy visit