Almost 100 puppies were rescued at Holyhead Port in the early hours of Tuesday morning, as part of a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-led, multi-agency operation tackling illegal animal importation.
The incident has been labelled a “shocking example” of the scale of the puppy trade, with the puppies – of various breeds including Beagles, Basset Hounds, Labradoodles and Pomeranians – treated as “cash bonanza” for organised criminal groups.
Following an intelligence-led move, two consignments of puppies were intercepted by Border Force as part of the partnership-driven operation. They were on two separate ferries arriving at Holyhead from Dublin on 15 November. On the second vehicle, an attempt had been made to conceal the transported puppies behind bales of wood shavings.
The puppies were travelling in hugely inappropriate conditions, with modes of transport not ventilated, food and water not provided and the animals often kept in filthy conditions. Most were believed to be six or seven weeks old.
After an initial veterinary inspection, the puppies were deemed fit to travel back, and were returned to the Republic of Ireland, where they are now in DSPCA care. Sadly, two were later identified to have developed canine parvovirus and are under veterinary care, but the other dogs will soon be available for re-homing.
Ian Briggs, of RSPCA’s special operations unit, said:
“These poor puppies were being carted into Wales in deeply inappropriate conditions in the early hours of the morning.
“Sadly, to unscrupulous dealers, these young pups are nothing more than a cash bonanza – and dealers would have been targeting tens of thousands of pounds from these shipments.
“This is another shocking example of people being readily prepared to act illegally and compromise the welfare of defenceless animals to make a quick buck – but, fortunately, they were stopped in their tracks.”