Thousands of pounds worth of fake guide dogs destined for Britain’s streets have been seized at Dover, as customs officers announced they have finally broken the UK’s largest counterfeit canine ring. However many fake guide dogs remain in circulation and members of the public have been asked to remain vigilant for the time being.
The fake guide dogs look real from a distance but on closer inspection turn out to be small Lhaso Apsos or other annoying yappy breeds wearing faux Labrador outfits. The phony dogs have a tell-tale zip across their stomach, and a tendency to ignore all instructions. With the waiting list for guide dogs at anything up to five years, police were aware that a black market in assistance dogs had evolved in which unscrupulous smugglers assured desperate blind people that they were providing the real thing. In fact the imported dogs have had no formal training, indeed some of the animals were even blind themselves. Helpless victims of the scam found themselves being led straight across busy traffic junctions as their dogs pursued bitches on heat or chased rabbits into brambles.
‘You’d have to be really sick to sell a counterfeit guide dog to a blind man, and we want the criminals responsible behind bars,’ said Inspector John Rhodes of Kent Police. ‘We’ve not seen anything like it since the ‘iPods for the Deaf’ scam of 2003.’
However police and customs officials have been criticised for taking so long to end the import and sale of phoney breeds. They claim they were hampered by the fact that their sniffer dogs kept wriggling out of their Alsatian costumes and disappearing off to the park to stare at people eating their sandwiches.