Last Friday, I was very glad to return to the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre in Harefield, where I was joined by my colleague Joy Morrissey, MP for Beaconsfield.
This was my first visit since before the pandemic, and it was a pleasure to meet with Jo Lloyd, External Affairs Manager, who introduced me to Bluebell, a 10-week-old lurcher puppy who is sadly deaf and partially blind. I was delighted to hear she has found a home and will shortly be relocating to Ilfracombe for her forever home.
As well as meeting Bluebell, the visit provided an opportunity to discuss the centre’s important ongoing work, as well as the impact that HS2 works are having on the welfare of dogs in care. As the works had not started in this part of the constituency on my last visit to Dogs Trust, I did not appreciate the full scale of disruption caused by the noise and vibrations. As such, I will be writing to the HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson, about how we might be able to mitigate the disturbance and will ensure that centre staff and residents are kept updated on the response.
Also discussed was the Dogs Trust’s work to improve legislation, and their hugely important nationwide campaign in raising awareness of the smuggled puppy trade. As a member of the Puppy Smuggling Taskforce, I fully support the charity’s call for the Government to urgently update animal welfare laws to stop smugglers taking advantage of an omission that is allowing dogs to be trafficked into the UK.
Dogs Trust believes legislation designed to clamp down on puppy smuggling must include the requirement for visual checks of dogs being transported into the country. Evidence from five Dogs Trust undercover investigations into the international smuggling trade identified visual checks as a key measure required to disrupt the industry. At present, ferry or Eurotunnel staff are only required to conduct a ‘document and identity’ check. There is no requirement for staff to see the dog.
Lastly, but most importantly, it was a pleasure to meet with the incredible team who have not only worked under extraordinary circumstances over the past two years, but who continue to ensure that all dogs are well looked after and go above and beyond to match them with their ideal new families.