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Pressroom » Press Releases

Border Puppy Task Force Evaluates Puppies
Smuggled in from Mexico

» December 18, 2006

San Ysidro, CA—For the second consecutive year, the Border Puppy Task Force (BPTF), comprised of 14 California animal welfare and law enforcement agencies, spent two-weeks at the Otay Mesa and San Ysidro ports of entry gathering statistics on the animals being transported from Mexico to the United States.

The BPTF was at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border crossings from November 27 through December 10 gathering data. The findings showed that the number of underage puppies smuggled in from Mexico to the United States dropped from last year. However, several underage puppies were seized in the operation. The puppies ranged from one-week-old to three-months-old.

“Even though the number of underage puppies seized during the operation dropped from last year, the issue is still relevant and we are concerned that smugglers are finding new ways to bring puppies over,” stated spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein. “The only way to truly end this problem is for consumers not to purchase puppies at swap meets, parking lots, or by answering ads.”

Thousands of underage puppies, many toy breeds, are brought into the U.S. for re-sale via the border crossing stations annually. Many are later discovered to be sick, potentially creating a health epidemic for animals and people in the U.S. Adding to this problem are the inhumane breeding and transportation issues, an existing overpopulation problem, and the fact that people may spend thousands of dollars on veterinary bills for a puppy in very poor health, which oftentimes dies. The situation may call for new laws to protect people and animals. Some of the issues are the threat of rabies, zoonotic diseases that can be transferred to humans, new disease epidemics, inhumane living and transportation conditions, and fraudulent business transactions by dealers and brokers with unsuspecting buyers.

During the two-week operation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CMP) officers directed drivers with animals to the secondary inspection area where humane and animal control officers interviewed people and gathered statistics on the animals. Drivers provided veterinary health records and depending on the circumstances, were either cleared for entry, sent back to Mexico, or the animals were relinquished by owners, and in severe inhumane circumstances, were impounded.

The BPTF is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), The California Department of Health Services (DHS) and Los Angeles and San Diego County Health Departments. The findings from the two-week period will be reviewed by the CDC and DHS for quarantine and health issues. The task force will be following up on contacts made during the border operation and are exploring the feasibility of maintaining a long term presence working alongside CBP Officers.

About the Border Task Force

The Border Puppy Task Force (BPTF) is a consortium of California animal welfare and law enforcement agencies working together for the well-being and protection of animals that are brought from Mexico into the United States through California entry border points. The BPTF is working in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control, California Department of Health Services, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and San Diego County Department of Health Services and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agencies.

Border Puppy Task Force Participants

  • Chula Vista Animal Services
  • City of Los Angeles Animals Services
  • Inland Valley Humane Society
    & SPCA
  • Irvine Animal Services
  • Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control
  • National City Animal Control
  • Pasadena Humane Society
    & SPCA
  • Riverside County Animal Services
  • Sacramento County Department of Animal Services
  • San Diego County Department of Animal Services
  • San Diego Humane Society
    & SPCA
  • Santa Ana Animal Control
  • Southeast Area Animal Control Authority (SEAACA)
  • spcaLA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles)

Health Agencies

  • California Department of Health Services (DHS)
  • Centers for Disease Control (DCD)
  • Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
  • San Diego County Department of Health Services

Note: Pictures of seized puppies available upon request.