Nonprofit Warns Puppy Smuggling Increase as U.S.-Mexico Border Reopens

Puppy smuggling is a growing problem, according to The Animal Pad, a nonprofit made up of volunteers that rescue dogs from Mexico

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When it comes to the border, drug smuggling and human trafficking get plenty of attention, but a local dog rescue tells NBC 7 they’re also seeing an uptick in puppy smuggling.

The Animal Pad in La Mesa hopes this issue gets more attention because they believe it’s about to become busier, with the border opening.

The advocacy arm of the organization, TAPACT, focuses solely on rescuing dogs being sold at the border, trafficked through the border or found on the streets in Mexico.

Puppy smuggling may be illegal, but at times it’s also blatantly obvious in line at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

For less than $100 you can purchase a puppy on the spot or indirectly.

Christy Lambert is the Director at TAPACT.

“People bring puppies, carloads of puppies from Mexico into the United States, sold physically in the United States whether that be on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace.”

The volunteer organization takes in dogs and places them with a foster until they’re healthy enough to be adopted.

“We’ve just seen a huge uptick in the vendors because they know that traffic is coming again and they’re getting ready to sell a bunch of puppies,” said Lambert.

They want to get the word out: stop buying the dogs and foster or adopt one, instead.

The trafficked dogs are almost always sickly, unvaccinated and if they make it across alive, have a long road to recovery.

Jennifer Bennett has been fostering a 2-year-old dog Eliza, who was found on the street in Tijuana.

“Now she is very spunky. She’s very confident. She can jump and play and chase,” said Bennett.

The Animal Pad’s mission is to do just that. Also to educate and push lawmakers to crack down on the animal trade where it starts: in line and online.

“What’s best for them and for them not to be a commodity to be sold,” said Bennett.

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