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dog trade RSPCA fear cruel conditions of £300k puppy smuggling scam is just tip of iceberg

Members of an Armagh-based family were among eight men and five women convicted recently in the UK over their roles in the £300k puppy trafficking ring

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Puppies were saved but many with illnesses sold to families.

Puppies were saved but many with illnesses sold to families.

Puppies were saved but many with illnesses sold to families.

Puppies and dogs being sold by a callous Irish gang were kept in horrific conditions before being sold to unsuspecting members of the public.

Members of an Armagh-based family were among eight men and five women convicted recently in the UK over their roles in the £300,000 puppy trafficking ring.

Now members of the RSPCA have revealed the squalid surroundings the pups were bred and kept in.

Some of the desperate animals had tried to chew through floors and walls in a harrowing bid to escape.

Inspector Michelle Hare said the ­operation against the gang started after a series of complaints by people whose recently-purchased pups became sick or died.

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Dogs were sick, in pain and in such stress that they tried to chew floors.

Dogs were sick, in pain and in such stress that they tried to chew floors.

Dogs were sick, in pain and in such stress that they tried to chew floors.

 

She arrived at the site where the animals were kept after being called in by the police. "As I made my way onto the site it was clear that there were a very large number of dogs and puppies present," she said.

"Other than a couple of dogs ­running loose on the site, the rest were being housed in lorry bodies and storage containers situated on the site.

"Some had untreated health problems including fur loss, ear infections and dental disease, and all were in wholly inappropriate environments.

"The trailers had been split into pens and all of the dogs were being kept in poor conditions. The kennels were dirty and smelt strongly of ammonia, while one of the pens was full of hazards including nails sticking out, sharp metal mesh and wires hanging down.

"There were holes in the walls and floor that appeared to have been caused by the dogs trying to chew out of the space.

"We removed four pregnant bitches and a poodle cross who had recently given birth, and five poodle cross puppies who were just 48 hours old.

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"Police seized 54 dogs and four litters of puppies were born in our care."

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The gang sold dying dogs to unsuspecting customers.

The gang sold dying dogs to unsuspecting customers.

The gang sold dying dogs to unsuspecting customers.

The inspector also found empty vaccination vials and needles, and flea and worming products, a stack of blank vaccination sheets which matched those the victims had been given when they bought puppies.

CCTV footage was obtained showing one of the gang delivering puppies.

The RSPCA also received information that the gang were importing puppies from Ireland for sale through front-men placing on-line ads.

The site in Milton Keynes was raided in November last year.

"The three youngest pups were in a dark, cold pen and they couldn't see anything but four solid walls. The water was dirty and the bedding smelled strongly of urine. The environment was totally unsuitable," said Inspector Hare.

Ian Briggs, Chief Inspector of the RSPCA's Special Operation Unit said the case is typical of the illicit trade that "exploded" during epidemic.

Breeders in Ireland are supplying people with dogs to smuggle to the UK where breeds such as a Cockapoo can sell for £4,000. Another gang, broken up by the RSPCA, imported 90 dogs every fortnight from Ireland.

Unfortunately, many of the puppies do not get the care they need early in life after being separated from their mothers too soon by gangs keen to cash-in on their 'cuteness'.

They can end up costing new owners thousands in vet and kennel fees.

In this week's episode of the Sunday World's Crime World podcast Briggs tells how the illegal market in puppies is worth millions every year and is attracting serious criminal gangs.

Working closely with Dublin SCPA they have intercepted many dogs but fear it's just the tip of the iceberg.

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