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Kentish Town mother warns against buying foreign pets after puppy is impounded

Alfie at his home in Kentish Town before being impounded Alfie at his home in Kentish Town before being impounded

Friday, June 13, 2014
8:00 AM

A mother has warned of the risks of buying pets from abroad after a visit to the vet left her son’s new puppy impounded – while she is facing a bill of more than £750.

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Genice Gentry, 48, says her young son has been left “in pieces” after their newly bought pug Alfie was taken from them by officials and sent to kennels in Heathrow.

It was discovered the confiscated puppy – originally from Lithuania but bought in the UK – may have been imported on false paperwork and did not have rabies vaccinations.

This is despite the dog having spent almost two weeks with government animal welfare officials on entry into Dover. They gave it a clean bill of health and allowed it to stay in the country.

The mother-of-one branded government officials “incompetent” and “a disgrace”, and says she now faces telling her son she can’t afford to get his puppy back.

Ms Gentry, a secretary of Oseney Crescent, Kentish Town, said: “My son is in tears and we’re both just in pieces.

“It took me six months to save up for the £650 puppy. It was supposed to be a playmate for my boy.

“I bought it in the UK so I assumed it was all fine but just wanted to make sure it was healthy. I took it to the vet, who disappeared with the dog and when they came back it was gone – quarantined.”

Officials say problems associated with UK residents buying pets from abroad is becoming more common.

Recent changes to the rules means animals coming from France are now treated the same as those coming from eastern Europe, where rabies is endemic.

The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) – a government body tasked with protecting the welfare of animals as well as the general public from disease – admitted its officers had seized and released Alfie at Dover without checking for a rabies vaccination.

A spokesman added: “AHVLA staff found that EU Welfare in Transport regulations were not complied with. A number of animals were placed into holding kennels until appropriate transport could be arranged.

“Checks on the validity of the paperwork should have taken place before arriving in Britain.”

A staff member at Airpets – who own the kennels where Alfie is impounded – justified the £752 bill to get the dog back, saying it covered “retrieval, vaccination, board and administration”.

She added: “She won’t be getting the dog back if she doesn’t pay the bill.”

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