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EFRA Committee to investigate animal import risks

13 October 2023

On Tuesday 17 October, the EFRA Committee will explore issues related to the legal and illegal importation of pets. MPs will probe the biosecurity risks associated with animal importation and consider the welfare of imported pets. 

Evidence submitted to the Committee as part of its pet welfare inquiry notes that while there is a criminal element in the animal import trade, the degree of large-scale organised crime involvement is unknown. Animals intended to be commercially bred or sold are often imported using pet passports and international organised criminals use false veterinary documentation to export animals.  

Criminals are attracted to the trade as the risk of getting caught is low and even when caught, punishment is low compared to other offences. Together with this, large profits can be made. The Committee has heard how one dealer prosecuted by the RSPCA was earning £3 million annually. Taking this into consideration, the EFRA Committee will scrutinise the effectiveness of import regulations currently in place.  

Additionally, the Committee will hear from witnesses from the Animal & Plant Health Agency and will examine whether the UK’s main animal health facility in Weybridge has sufficient capacity to effectively manage the risks of zoonotic disease outbreaks. MPs will consider the impact that the importation of animals could have on biosecurity risks to the UK in the future. 


Tuesday 17 October, Committee room 6, Palace of Westminster

From 2:30pm:  

  • John Keefe, Chief Corporate and Public Affairs Officer, Getlink Group (Eurotunnel) 
  • Gavin Stedman, Director Port Health & Public Protection at Heathrow Animal Reception Centre 
  • Steve Lawrie, Port Operations Manager, Group Pet Travel Coordinator, Brittany Ferries 
  • Tim Reardon, Head of EU Exit and Company Secretary at Port of Dover

From 3:30pm: 

  • David Holdsworth, Chief Executive, Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA)
  • Nicola Hirst, Director for Service Delivery, APHA 

Further information

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