“We are convinced that the increase in smuggling of small dogs has gone up since it has become popular,” Ingemar Persson, a Swedish customs official, told SVT, adding that he suspects the trend started with party princess Paris Hilton’s pet chihuahua Tinkerbell.
In order to prevent smuggled dogs from spreading rabies and other diseases, the Board of Agriculture and the Swedish Customs Service started project Puppy.
With additional personnel on the borders, a telephone tip line and tip website, Sweden hopes to crack down on the importation of illegal animals.
Three men were caught in April smuggling four Doberman puppies into Sweden while crossing into Sweden from Denmark. One of the men is now suspected to have smuggled in some 25 dogs which he eventually sold on his website.
A pair was sentenced to one year in jail for importing 55 dogs from Poland.