• Sweden edition
 
Swedes warned over new breed of dog smugglers

Swedes warned over new breed of dog smugglers

Published: 13 Dec 2012 17:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Dec 2012 17:10 GMT+01:00

Swedes hoping a new dog will make the perfect Christmas present have been warned they may end up feeding to a recent rise in dog smuggling, with pugs having replaced chihuahuas as the canine of choice in the illegal puppy trade.

The car was jammed with plastic bags, a crumpled jacket, ripped cardboard, discarded newspapers, an empty box of the Polish chocolate Marokko... and 22 puppies.

"They were so tiny they couldn't possibly be old enough to travel," recalls Josefin Runesson at Swedish Customs (Tullverket) who was put in charge of investigating the case in 2010.

"It was an obvious case of smuggling," she tells The Local.

Some of them were shoved into a Chiquita banana box, others had been put in a metal cage which in turn was placed in a sports bag. That, in turn, had been zippered shut so that the West Highland terriers and the French bulldogs could not be seen from the outside.

In the boot of the car, pomeranians and chihuahuas jostled for space in confining boxes.

"There was urine and excrement everywhere," Runesson explains.

One of the Westies was dangerously close to hypothermia. Only three of the dogs had identity chips; one of the French bulldogs oddly had two chips but only one was linked to a registered pet passport, which all dogs travelling within the EU must have.

The driver of the car was eventually charged not only with dog smuggling but with cruelty to animals.

When veterinarians from the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) were called to the scene, all the puppies had to be put down.

In 2010, customs officials intervened more than ten times in the south of Sweden, where most smugglers make their way into the country. They discovered more than 50 dogs, including the big haul of 22 puppies.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE PICTURES OF THE SMUGGLED PUPPIES (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT)

The number of apprehended smugglers dipped slightly in 2011, with only four arrests involving nine smuggled dogs. But authorities and animal rights observers noted that those figures may only represent the tip of the iceberg.

And in 2012, the apprehension rate picked up again, with nine interventions by customs officials resulting in 22 confiscated dogs between January to August.

Apart from the torture-like conditions that many of the dogs are subjected to in 'dog farms' and then during transport, officials are also concerned about the health risks posed by the contraband pups.

"We don't have rabies in Sweden and we'd like to keep it that way," Peter Diemar at the Agriculture Board says.

Yet, despite avoiding the virus, Sweden has seen the introduction of other potentially dangerous parasites.

"Unfortunately, we already have cyclophyllid tapeworm (rävens dvärgbandsmask) but we don't want to add to it," Diemar adds.

Swedish author Daniel Sjölin theorized in his 2007 book Världens sista roman ('The World's Last Novel') that American heiress Paris Hilton's chihuahua was indirectly responsible for introducing the parasite to Sweden. The breed's status as a cute accessory certainly seemed to spur on demand for the toy dogs.

"There weren't enough chihuahua breeders in Sweden when they became popular," senior advisor Siw Ågren at Animal Rights Sweden (Djurens Rätt) tells The Local.

"So it became a lucrative market for smugglers."

The recent figures also seem to reflect the changing trends in preferred dog breeds. While six chihuahuas were included in the big 2010 haul of 22 puppies, the biggest discovery the following year was a pug-exclusive affair. All eleven of them had to be put down after being smuggled in from Hungary via Germany and arriving in the Swedish town Trelleborg on a ferry.

"Nowadays, there are a lot of pugs and French bulldogs," Diemar confirms.

"Previously we saw more chihuahuas, and it probably reflects what is in fashion."

Diemar explains that many dog smugglers use the internet to market their goods, adding that the amount of money changing hands is no laughing matter.

"We've seen extreme cases where Swedes part with 16,000 kronor ($2,400) to buy a puppy in a parking lot because they've seen an ad on a buy-sell site like Blocket," he says.

"As long as this market exists and as long as people are naive, this smuggling will, in all likelihood, continue."

Diemar says Blocket.se, Sweden's biggest buy-sell site, has cooperated with his organization several times to crack suspected dog smuggling cases.

"If we see that one particular dog breed is popping up more frequently we'll run a check on the puppies' registration numbers or check their mother," Thomas Bäcker, customer security advisor at Blocket.se, tells The Local.

"We seem to notice that the problem overall is decreasing, and both customs officials and the agriculture board have become much more alert about the issue. But we at Blocket have given potential smugglers hell, so it is possible they've moved on to other buy-sell sites," said Bäcker.

"Our advice to help stop this is to undercut the market by reducing demand: don't buy."

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

18:25 December 13, 2012 by calebian22
All the dogs had to be put down? Because of rabies? There is a test in case the board of Agriculture is that ignorant. There are cases of rabies in Norway every year. No doubt infected animals respect the border and stay on the correct side, right? Diemar is a typical government idiot.
10:38 December 21, 2012 by Hisingen
New breed of dog smugglers. Hmmm. New breed of dog, or new breed of smuggler? That is the question. A very ambiguous banner.
Today's headlines
Dismemberment killer gets sentence cut
The search and rescue operation in northern Sweden. File photo: TT

Dismemberment killer gets sentence cut

The 22-year-old man convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in northern Sweden had his sentence reduced on Wednesday, in part due to his "peculiar personality". READ () »

School gas leak sends 25 to hospital

School gas leak sends 25 to hospital

An elementary school in southern Sweden was evacuated on Wednesday and dozens of pupils were taken to hospital after the smell of gas spread through the rooms. READ () »

Swedes vote for country's nicest cock
The Flymen Church weathercock in all its newly gilded glory. Photo: TT

Swedes vote for country's nicest cock

A Swedish churchwarden has reacted with joy upon finding out the parish has Sweden's nicest weathercock. READ () »

Greens push rich tax to finance schools
Per Bolund of The Greens. File photo: TT

Greens push rich tax to finance schools

Sweden's third largest party The Greens revealed its shadow budget on Wednesday, targeting schools and youth employment. High earners would have to pitch in more. READ () »

Holiday status updates 'not a burglary risk'
Ibiza, you say? File photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Holiday status updates 'not a burglary risk'

Mythbusting Swedish researchers have found no link between gushing about your upcoming holiday online and returning to an emptied house. They told The Local that a trip to Ikea could be much more dangerous. READ () »

Woman charged after accusing beggar of theft
The people in this picture are not those from the story. Photo: TT

Woman charged after accusing beggar of theft

A woman in Gothenburg who accused a beggar of robbing her has been charged with fraud and false accusations. READ () »

Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
Photo: Kungahuset

Swedish royals set baptism date for princess

Sweden's royal family has set the date for the baptism of Princess Leonore. READ () »

The Local List
Evidence Game of Thrones is set in Sweden

Evidence Game of Thrones is set in Sweden

With Swedish Game of Thrones fans frothing at the mouth at the season four premiere, The Local revisits its list of ten reasons why the hit books and show are (probably) based in Sweden. READ () »

'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers
The Kockums Malmö shipyard and FMV headquarters. Files: TT

'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers

After the Swedish military raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp, a military expert tells The Local why recent Russian aggression means Sweden's Saab needs to take control of national submarine production. READ () »

Swedish kids crack adult content 'code' at school
A child, unrelated to the story, on her computer. File photo: TT

Swedish kids crack adult content 'code' at school

Swedish parents who busted their children looking at adult content online were shocked to find the kids saying 'they'd learned the code at school'. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Advertisement:
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
Society
'Blondes have more brains': Swedish study
TT
Society
VIDEO: Leaked 'Save Slussen' film goes viral
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching, March 28-30
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

737
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com