Pets are bought and sold randomly - legally they are considered property, which can be used within the limits of the legal system. For many years, there has been a flourishing international trade in young pedigree animals. As with every type of business practice, a vast number of – oftentimes dubious – vendors smell potential profits. When looking to purchase online, it is often almost impossible for potential buyers to distinguish such breeders from reputable ones. This is particularly true for puppies. During the pandemic year 2020, there was a drastic increase in demand for dogs and the animals were mostly imported from foreign countries. The business has been shown to be ruthless and a cause for great animal suffering.
According to the Identitas AG dog database Amicus
there are currently some 530,000 registered dogs living in Switzerland, and the number is in fact rising. On December 31, 2020, there were 11,580 more registrations than during the previous year, meaning an increase of 2.2%. Identitas has confirmed that more than half of these dogs were imported. In 2020 alone, around 30,700 dogs were brought into Switzerland, which means that some 85 animals crossed the border daily. That is more than twice as many dogs as in 2008 (12,000), according to a study by Swiss Animal Protection SAP
. Additionally, the percentage of puppies aged 56 to 98 days rose sharply by 28% compared to the previous year, according to Identitas. The FSVO estimates that a substantial number of dogs were either never cleared through customs and/or were imported as pets belonging to the importer and were then resold - both are against the law. It is therefore no surprise that, since the spring of 2020, twice as many fatally ill puppies have been admitted to the animal hospital in Zurich
than before the pandemic.
One reason the international puppy trade is so successful is that these animals are usually sold at much lower prices than dogs bred in Switzerland. They are also often sold on the internet with the convenient option of “home delivery". Swiss breeders cannot keep up with the demand for puppies of trending breeds like Chihuahuas, Miniature Spitz, French Bulldogs, and Pugs, which is why they are among the most frequent victims of the trade in "cheap puppies". In mass breeding facilities, females are constantly impregnated, and puppies are usually separated from their mothers and siblings far too early. Pathogens and parasites can spread rapidly due to the considerable number of animals, and the housing and transport conditions are typically deplorable. All this results in permanent psychological and physical damage to both the mother and her young. It is not uncommon for the recipient of an animal in Switzerland to end up with an illegally imported puppy that is already fatally ill upon arrival. In addition to the emotional burden associated with accompanying a suffering animal on its final journey, the owner usually faces high administrative costs and potential criminal charges due to the illegal import, not to mention substantial expenses for veterinary care, which all far exceed the cheap purchase price. Costs of up to 8,000 Swiss francs and more are quite common.