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Finnish Customs has again uncovered a case of dog smuggling – the illegal activity has resulted in significant financial gain

Publication date 19.7.2023 8.05
Press release

Finnish Customs has investigated a case of illegal import of dogs from several European countries to Finland. The smuggler had neglected the vaccinations and treatments required for import of dogs. It is suspected that the illegal activity has resulted in a gain of about 200 000 euros.

According to information available to Finnish Customs, dogs have been illegally imported e.g. from Ukraine, Hungary, Spain, Poland, Romania, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. About 80 dogs have been smuggled to Finland since 2017, especially in 2022. The requirements for commercial import have been evaded by having several different private individuals import the dogs to make it look like they were importing pets.

– Our investigation has revealed that a person living in the Pirkanmaa region has sold dogs e.g. on online marketplaces and via social media around Finland. We would like to remind dog buyers to check the background of the pet very carefully, because it can be difficult to identify an illegally imported animal. For dogs imported from the EU territory, you should at least demand to see the TRACES certificate and check the pet passport for details of the animal and the vaccinations. If the dog has been imported from outside the EU, it must at least have a certificate of veterinary border inspection, that is, a so-called CHED certificate. The buyer may be committing an offence of unlawful dealing in imported goods by acquiring an illegally imported dog, says Director of Enforcement Hannu Sinkkonen.

Dogs have been sold for a value of about 375 000 euros. However, the details of the sales of the dogs do not match the seller’s bookkeeping entries, and there is e.g. no bookkeeping at all for a period of two years.

Animals and society suffer because of the shadow economy

During a house search in autumn 2022, Finnish Customs seized a large number of documents concerning dogs, accounting material, sale contracts for dogs as well as illegally imported veterinary medicines. Some of the imported dogs had insufficient vaccinations against rabies and insufficient treatment against echinococcosis. In addition, the dogs’ pet passports had incorrect entries, and none of the dogs had a TRACES animal health certificate issued by an official veterinarian in the country of departure.

– The purpose of the import requirements is to prevent the spread of rabies and echinococcosis to Finland, to see to the welfare of animals and to ensure due payment of taxes. Smuggling of animals is part of the shadow economy, which causes problems concerning animal welfare and increases animal disease risks. Because of the illegal activity, animals suffer and costs for society increase, continues Sinkkonen.

Finnish Customs suspects one person of smuggling, aggravated tax fraud and an aggravated accounting offence, among other things. The preliminary investigation of the case will be concluded in early autumn 2023, and after that, the case will be forwarded to the prosecutor for consideration of charges.

Earlier this year, Finnish Customs also uncovered a case of illegal import of dogs to Finland, see the earlier media release (in Finnish).

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