The smugglers’ car was searched as it drove off a ferry from Poland. The dogs were hidden in the car, and according to some witnesses at least one of the women tried to hide the animals in her clothes. Other witnesses say that the puppies had been allowed to walk around on the boat.
A vet was called following the discovery, who decided that the puppies had to be killed immediately.
Smuggling of dogs to Sweden increased last year; the customs authority and the Swedish Board of Agriculture established a joint programme to deal with the problem. Most cases of smuggling are only detected when the animal makes its first visit to a Swedish veterinarian.
The main official concern about dogs smuggled into the country without proper documentation is that they could carry Rabies or Echinococcus multilocularis, a tapeworm that can cause Alveolar Hydatid Disease, a serious infection in humans.
Those who buy smuggled dogs can face prosecution. The Swedish Board of Agriculture warns potential dog buyers that they are supporting an industry that can cause great suffering for dogs, and in which puppies often die during transport.
The Paris Hilton factor could lie behind the increase in smuggling.
Kjell Johansson at Swedish Customs says that increased demand for small dogs over the past few years has created a black market.
“There exist what we refer to as ‘dog factories’ abroad,” he said.
The customer for the eleven mongrel puppies impounded in Karlskrona may already have been found. Johansson said that a house in Sweden had been raided in connection with the case, but did not say what evidence had been found there. He said he hoped to get more information out of the people arrested in Karlskrona.