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One voice films categorical proof of illegal puppy and kitten trading in belgium


One Voice has again turned its attention to illegal trade in puppies and kittens, following the reading of a report on the pet trade before the French lower house by Mrs Perrin-Gaillard, MP for Deux-Sèvres. Using hidden camera techniques, One Voice filmed puppies being unloaded from Eastern European lorries at a transit centre in Belgium that supplies French pet shops and breeders.

The enquiry, which lasted several weeks, targeted one of the biggest puppy and kitten transit centres in Belgium.One Voice filmed lorries from Hungary and the Czech Republic unloading animals which are then sold to the general public, using a pet centre as a smokescreen, as well as to pet shops and breeders. The animals are sold in huge tents, filled with cats and dogs of every possible breed and colour.

Certain of the animals that One Voice purchased were aged less than eight weeks. In France it is illegal to import puppies under eight weeks.

Some were ill. All had unregistered electronic ID chips which do not indicate the animals’ origins. The chips are two to three years old and come from two different countries. One Voice is in the process of tracing the countries and companies that supplied them. The centre will supply puppies and kittens of any race, either immediately or the following Tuesday, the day the lorries arrive from Eastern Europe. Hundreds of puppies pass through the centre each week.

Animals from countries in which cases of rabies are still being recorded must be correctly vaccinated. Rabies is still a problem in regions of many Eastern European countries. Since the introduction of new legislation on August 1st, 2001 by the French Ministry of Agriculture, puppies and kittens from Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, etc., can no longer be imported into France. Belgium law is however less strict and allows puppies to be imported at seven weeks. The animals are vaccinated and given Belgian health records as soon as they arrive in the country. Hence they are considered as originating from the European Union and can enter France.

In addition to serious health issues, this practice also raises questions concerning the puppies’ well-being. Puppies that have not been weaned are often very ill and will require extensive and costly veterinary treatment. Prematurely separated from their mother, they are then transported by lorry for days. The puppies are not used to human contact and often develop serious behavioural problems such as biting, or signs of deprivation or hyper-attachment.

One Voice has gathered alarming testimonies, e.g. a very aggressive Golden Retriever, a 15-month old Labrador that had to be put down, and sick puppies and kittens that died. Not to mention the risk of rabies.

One Voice bought eight animals at the Belgian transit centre, two of which are hovering between life and death. One kitten is extremely aggressive and anti-social while a dog shows signs of bites, deprivation and muscular development problems. Sales staff eventually grew wary and refused to sell One Voice any of the sickly animals on show.


In September 2001, One Voice sent the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries an enlightening report on pet import rings, and launched a nationwide information campaign. One Voice has already taken action in this area by publicly denouncing some of those who profit from this sordid business. One Voice wrote again to the Ministry of Agriculture in December, having failed to receive a reply. Almost 100,000 puppies and kittens are imported illegally into France each year.

Overpopulation of dogs and cats in France

The situation in France is characterised by two contradictory elements: - there are already too many dogs and cats. Rescue centres have no more room, while the general public encourage their animals to have litters. - imports are rocketing, and industrial breeding centres developing. Over 100,000 animals are declared as imports each year. Francis Duprat, France’s biggest pet trader, declared having imported 19,000 animals. French Customs estimate that he actually imported some 40,000.

The report sent to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

One Voice supplied the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries with a detailed report on dog imports, using information gathered over several years of enquiries.

Little by little, numerous intermediaries, pseudo-breeders and pet shops in France have begun trading in puppies brought in from Eastern Europe, with scant regard for prevailing legislation. Importers often give the puppies a false European Union identity, enabling them to take advantage of less restrictive legislation.

Animals from an EU country, unlike from other countries, can be imported into France before the age of three months, with no need for individual identification or health checks.

This illegal pet trade raises three important issues:

- respect for animal health legislation (limiting the risks of spreading disease) - respect for trading laws (honest advertising, information to buyers) - animal well-being.

One Voice has asked the French Minister of Agriculture to: - take all necessary action to apply the law, and in particular legislation introduced on August 1st, 2001; - ban brokering; - introduce legislation on transportation of domestic animals; - legally oblige pet shops to indicate the origin of the puppies and kittens they sell, including the breeder’s name and address; - limit sales of animals to those breeds listed in the Livre des Origines Françaises (France’s official standards for pedigree dogs); - introduce means of ensuring pets’ well-being while awaiting sale; - introduce means of monitoring what becomes of unsold pets.

One Voice is also pressing for a debate on the growing number of industrial breeding centres.

The campaign

One Voice seeks to inform the general public of the various issues they must consider before buying a pet, thus making them more responsible in their choices. Impulse buys often lead to disappointment and problems. One Voice is anxious to teach the public that they must be committed to their pet for the rest of its life, that rescue centres are filled with animals that are awaiting adoption, and that they must not encourage the importing of pets when there are already too many dogs and cats. One Voice recognises that some breeders are scrupulously honest and concerned by their animals’ well-being. These breeders face unfair competition from importers. The development of industrial breeding centres will make their situation even more uncertain. These honest breeders breed animals in reasonable quantities only, and survey their physical and psychological condition. Only bitches between the ages of 2 and 7 years are used for reproduction. The dogs live in hygienic conditions and are well cared-for. They are all listed in the Livre des Origines Françaises, the only guarantee of pedigree. One Voice is a French animal rights organisation that was founded in 1998, under the patronage of the late Professor Théodore Monod, through the fusion of existing animal welfare structures. One Voice campaigns to promote the rights of animals to respect, freedom and life. The leading French organisation defending the rights of animals used in laboratory tests, One Voice also campaigns to protect animals used for fur, circus animals, farm animals and pets. By winning media coverage, it teaches the public that the future of animals is intimately linked to that of Nature and humankind. One Voice firmly believes in respect for one and all. One Voice is an independent organisation with no political or religious affiliations. It has over 20,000 members and supporters, and publishes a quarterly magazine, Animaction. One Voice specialises in targeted long-term campaigns, informing the public of the suffering that millions of animals must endure each day and that those who profit from such suffering would rather keep secret. One Voice educates children and puts pressure on decision-makers, in particular government authorities, to introduce legislation to protect animals.

Translation:Sandra Petch

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