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Breeder horrified at Italian Spinone import

Issue: 20/03/2020

An Italian Spinone breeder had a horrific experience importing a puppy from Poland that included false passports, secret drop offs on remote country lanes and an FCI judge.
Zoe Lewsley has bred Italian Spinone dogs for 17 years and she saw a Facebook post from a reputable breeder advertising a three month old boy and girl from Poland looking for a show home.
She decided after getting in touch that they would bring the boy to the UK. It was the first time she had imported a dog before and Zoe told OUR DOGS, ‘this was obviously new territory for us.’
The Breeder recommended a courier they had used and Zoe was assured that even though the journey would be over land there would be plenty of stops for food, water and toilet breaks.
On the courier’s Facebook page it said that their business was a ‘family affair’ with the husband, wife and son travelling the world delivering the dogs. Zoe was reassured that the wife is an FCI Judge. She said, ‘Clearly, we felt that as ‘dog people’ our puppy would be safe and well cared for.’
The puppy was due to leave Poland on Tuesday 28 January and it would arrive in Shropshire on Wednesday 29 January. There was a delay setting off and they were told that the dog would not arrive until late on Wednesday.
Wednesday came and went and the dog had not arrived. The breeder advised Zoe that there were delays and that their puppy would be with them on the Thursday. A text from the courier confirmed the dog would be with them midday on Thursday.
Friday 31st January was ‘brexit day’ and the courier on the Thursday morning blamed brexit for causing delays on the UK border and that they had been queuing for hours. The officials they said were being ‘difficult’ and ‘rude’.
They were informed that the courier and their puppy were safe and well and that they were in a hotel for the evening.
In the early hours of Friday morning a text from the courier said it would be ‘better and faster’ if they went to Dover and pick up the puppy for themselves. They said customs were making problems for them, wanting new documents, certificates and making the process last as long as possible.

Alarm bells

Zoe said, ‘This clearly raised huge alarm bells and we replied to the courier for information only to be sent a screenshot of a UK phone number and advised to call it after 8 am and they would ‘tell you everything you need to know’. Having Googled the number, we found it was the UK Animal Health and Quarantine Dept!’
Zoe and her partner set off on their 250 mile journey on ‘brexit day’ taking with them their other Spinone, Bertie, and an overnight bag, ‘just in case’.
Despite constantly calling and messaging the courier they did not get a reply. They did get through to a ‘lovely lady’ at the Animal Health and Quarantine Department.
She told them, ‘the vehicle was intercepted on Wednesday the UK Border...all animals on board were seized and had been placed in quarantine kennels on the Wednesday evening.’
‘Our blood ran cold as she spoke. What were we mixed up in? Intercepted? Seized? We were also angry that all of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was a lie.
‘They were not in a hotel being looked after, there were no delays at the border and the officials were not being rude. All lies.’
The courier’s husband and son had been stopped with a van with 10 animals on board. There were eight puppies and two kittens. They had lied that the dogs were all theirs and that they were taking them to Scotland for training. They produced passports in their name.
This did not ring true to the authorities and because the men stuck to their study the authorities could not contact the true owners.
Whilst the couriers had the correct paperwork they wanted to conceal it as they did not want to be classed as a commercial venture. They would have to adhere to the EU Pet Travel scheme and provide the necessary licences.
‘Clearly they had travelled in this way before but this seems to have been the first time they had been caught.’
The breeder was able to help them to prove to Border Control they had bought the puppy by sending screenshots of the correct paperwork and proof of payment.  Once they had proved themselves, ‘The lady from Border Control said that she could see the men standing with their hands on their hips, still lying and sticking to the Scotland story.’


They were then told to stop heading for Dover but to head to Canterbury instead. The dogs had been moved from Dover to quarantine kennels in the cathedral city on the Thursday.
As the kennels are in a secret location they were advised to go a place in the middle of nowhere near a tea room. ‘It was utterly surreal and like something out of a film!’
‘We went into the tea room and the waitress said, ‘Are you here for the puppy from the port?’ She then told us to wait in the car park for a man with a ‘high viz’ jacket.’
Two ladies arrived in a white van and they said they had our puppy. They gave us a passport in return for £40 cash. They opened a side door and in a crate was a frightened, shivering Italian Spinone puppy.
‘We opened up the crate, scooped him up into our arms and he showered us with kisses!’ They named their new dog Freddie.
‘As you can imagine, we were exhausted, stressed, upset and so angry that our puppy ,and nine other youngsters, had been subjected to such a terrible, stressful time. 
‘All of this could have been avoided had the Couriers been honest and truthful and used the correct documents. Having already lied, to then keep up the lie, while watching 10 animals be seized into quarantine is utterly unforgiveable. 
‘To call themselves ‘dog lovers’ cannot be true. No dog lover could possibly do such a thing and not only let the animals be seized but continue lying to the new owners for two days when they hadn’t even got the animals in their possession.
‘We have not heard another word from the Couriers, unsurprisingly.’
When they got home they found that the passport they had bought was a forgery. They have, with the help of the breeder, managed to get hold of his true passport.
‘We know that some people may think we were naïve but, we trusted the reputations of these people and could never, in our worst nightmares, have though that they would behave in such a way and allow such precious ‘cargo’ to be taken into quarantine!
‘Freddie has settled in very well and he and Bertie were instantly best pals. He is still wary of people in high viz jackets, understandably and stresses if we are out of his sight but he is doing very well adjusting to his new life in the UK.
‘This was not the start any young animal should have to go through and we strongly feel that others should know of the dangers and pitfalls when importing/exporting and would hate to think that other owners and their animals had to go through the same stress and upset that we have.’

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