The role of organised crime in the illegal puppy trade

Puppy Trade GettyImages-493302678(1)


The black-market puppy trade is booming. A high profit, low risk crime, it has devastating impacts on a dog and her puppies, exploits innocent buyers and has links to organised crime.

USW’s Jenny Maher, Associate Professor in Criminology, is an expert on the trafficking of animals and animal abuse. Her research explores the role of organised crime in the illegal puppy trade.



Dr Jenny Maher's evidence calls for greater public awareness of the European illegal puppy trade and its links to organised crime, and the significant harms on both the human and nonhuman animals.

Buying a puppy is a minefield but there are steps you can take to help protect yourself as well as your dog's welfare, and make sure you are not inadvertently supporting organised crime.

Dr Maher said:

  • Buyers must make informed decisions when searching for and buying puppies.
  • Do a lot of research, be aware of health and behavioural issues linked to many trendy breeds.
  • Visit a local rescue centre first as many lovely dogs are waiting there.
  • Read up on new legislation (Lucy’s Law) which is designed to crack down on puppy farming.
  • Follow the RSPCA's steps to ensure you are not supporting puppy farmers


Read Dr Jenny Maher’s evidence on the European illegal puppy trade and organised crime.

Read more of Dr Jenny Maher’s research into animal welfare and abuse.