Dog Trafficking in Eastern Europe

dogtraffickingDog trafficking in Europe is increasing, with thousands of puppies and dogs brought into the UK, often from eastern Europe. In March 2013 the Express published the following article: The price of greed: Surge in puppy smuggling from Eastern Europe to UK. “Designer puppies” are in particular demand, imported from countries like Lithuania, Hungary and Slovakia, and sold to UK citizens. I hate to think of the conditions these puppies are brought into the world in… some breeding dogs are kept in solitary confinement all their lives. Of course puppy farms exist all over Europe, in fact Ireland is known as the ‘puppy farm capital’ of Europe, and puppy farms exist in abundance in the UK.

Another article, Pup Hell: Traffickers swipe young dogs from their mothers, cram them into a van cage, ship them to the UK…and process is all legal, describes the awful conditions of the transport vans the dogs are brought over in.

Please, Don’t ever buy from a pet shop, most dogs in pet shops are supplied by puppy farms and don’t buy a pedigree dog at a ‘bargain price’ advertised in a newspaper or online. Please find out as much as you can about any dog that you decide to buy or adopt. Ideally, the group or person who is offering the dog should be deeply concerned about YOU, whether you can, in fact, offer the dog (or cat) a suitable home.

Useful websites for information:
Puppy Love Campaigns
Puppy Trafficking
– stop puppy farming, end cruelty
Dogs Trust UK
Worldwide Veterinary Service

I recently came across accusations of dog trafficking made against animal welfare groups and animal activist individuals. I personally have not found any legitimate claim, regarding Bosnia – all the animal welfare groups and individuals I have been involved with struggle to find homes the dogs (and cats) they rescue, and much time and energy is spent fundraising to pay for the cost of keeping the animals safe and off the streets, preparing a dog for travel, and for any travel costs if a home is found outside of Bosnia. Due to the general cultural negativity towards dogs in Bosnia (see Dog Shelters in Bosnia: A Complex Situation) I would be surprised if there are people in Bosnia willing to spend the time involved in maintaining a puppy farm, and I very much doubt Bosnians are creating and selling ‘designer’ breeds, but perhaps I am wrong. Other awful things do go on of course, as anyone who reads this blog knows.

However, I have been warned that there are people posing as legitimate adopters of rescue dogs when in fact they are not: they are looking for dogs for breeding or to sell -this certainly is a potential issue in Bosnia as many of the strays in the country are beautiful, pedigree-type dogs. See below: Billy for example, a gorgeous labrador-type, who we found a home for in the UK early this year, and King, the lovely GSD who is sadly too old to travel, but who is in a very good pension in Sarajevo, and is sponsored by us to live there happily for as long as he needs.

Our group, AWABhas recently homed 14 rescue dogs in the UK and Europe. Every potential adopter was thoroughly home-checked, and if this went well, the adopter signed documentation agreeing that AWAB can continue to monitor the dog to ensure they are being properly taken care of. We have a private Facebook group where all the adopters gather and talk and share photographs, and discuss any issues. Adopting a rescue is very different to adopting a pedigree dog, or a mixed-breed dog or puppy who did not come from the streets. It takes an enormous amount of time and care to win the trust of rescues.

Almost all people who adopt or provide foster care for rescues, whether via AWAB or other groups, are also animal rights activists or advocates or generally people who are concerned with animal rights and welfare and who have experience with rescues and understand that such dogs need special care. If there are any concerns about the health and welfare of rescue dogs AWAB is involved with, we seek support and advice from organisations such as Dogs Trust and Worldwide Veterinary Services.

I hope to be posting blogs about our adopted dogs very soon, it’s a miracle to see how they look now in their new homes compared to how the looked when the were first rescued, but there always seems to be a dire case to report, so I keep putting it off! But to end this blog on a happy note, do you remember Grace, rescued from the horror of Hreša shelter last year? This is how she looked then:

554140_4939444246711_410903332_nAnd here she is in her new home in Norway…



Funds are needed not only to help individual rescues and to help us keep safe the rescued dogs we are sponsoring and finding homes for, but also to continue our advocacy work in Bosnia, uncovering the truth about what is happening there.

On our sister site, Animal Welfare Advocates for Bosnia, you can set up a monthly donation via PayPal, or if you want to make a one-off donation, please go to your PayPal account (or set one up, it’s very easy) and send the money to: as a ‘gift’. Click on the image below to be taken to PayPal’s home page.


Or if you want to use the customised PayPal form, click the link below. However, a transaction fee and a percentage (2- 5.4%) will be deducted by PayPal for any contribution made.

If you want your contribution to go to a specific dog or cause, please make a note in the PayPal comment box. If you wish to contribute via bank transfer or have other difficulties or questions, please go here.


This site is dedicated to Vučko. Read his story and don’t let him have suffered and died in vain. Please help the stray dogs and cats in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The situation there is utterly dire, Vučko is but one amongst many horrifically abused animals. Go here to find out how to help them.  Money is needed for food, medicine and foster housing. Even just one dollar or one euro will help.