Rural-Urban Dynamics in the UK Illegal Puppy Trade: Trafficking and Trade in 'Man's Best Friend'

Jennifer Maher, Tanya Wyatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Downloads (Pure)


Recently much attention has been given to the presence and increase of transnational and organised crime, with a particular focus on online illicit markets. While the rural to urban flow of illicit goods is documented (UNODC 2017), it is seldom the key focus. This paper details research on the illegal puppy trade, documenting the movement of puppies reared in irresponsible and/or illegal conditions in rural locations and then advertised online for the urban market. Through analysis of online advertisements in Scotland, expert interviews, and focus groups across Great Britain, we document the rural-urban dynamic of an overlooked transnational illicit market; a market facilitated by neo-liberalism and speciesism. While estimates on the value of the trade are problematic, the snapshot of online sales in Scotland, alone, suggests a marketplace with an annual value of £13 million (17,680 puppies). The cost of animal suffering associated with this trade is incalculable. Awareness must be raised and regulation and enforcement improved to reduce suffering and transnational criminals from profiting. This rural-urban dynamic presents a global challenge and demands an international response.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6266
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Rural Law and Policy.
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2019


  • animal abuse
  • illegal puppy trade
  • puppy trade
  • rural crime
  • green criminology
  • transnational crime
  • speciesism


Dive into the research topics of 'Rural-Urban Dynamics in the UK Illegal Puppy Trade: Trafficking and Trade in 'Man's Best Friend''. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this