Twenty-nine puppies have been rescued at Belfast Port as part of a multi-agency crackdown on the illegal puppy trade and Christmas sale of puppies.
The puppies are believed to have been en route from an illegal “puppy farm” to be sold at inflated prices under the impression that they were from a reputable breeder.
The Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs of Northern Ireland (DAERA) said the rescue is the latest in a significant series of confiscations in Northern Ireland ports and is part of the Paws for Thought initiative, which will see dogs and puppies traveling through ports before subject to animal welfare and transport controls upon boarding.
They said it was a paperwork discrepancy that led to the animals being spotted by DAERA staff working in conjunction with Belfast Port Police and Belfast City Council.
All puppies are now in the process of finding a new home.
A DAERA spokesman said: “There is high demand for a Christmas pup at this time of year, fueling the trade in low welfare puppies through our ports to sell at an inflated price in the UK.
“Innocent animal lovers are often misled into believing that these puppies are from a reputable breeder. Not infrequently, puppies that are trafficked come from illegal breeding facilities known as “puppy farms,” where they are bred in appalling conditions.
“We have zero tolerance for this type of activity – reputable breeders can prove origin and destination and have all their paperwork in order.
“The Department, with the support of partner agencies including the Belfast Port Police and Belfast City Council, is leading the fight to eradicate this vile trade. The rescue of these 29 puppies demonstrates the effectiveness of the multi-agency approach in targeting those involved.
“We would also like to thank our portal employees for their diligence and quick action in this case.”
The Paws for Thought Group said: “We want to reiterate our message that people think long and hard before deciding to buy an animal this Christmas. Prospective dog owners should review the guides available online before considering getting a puppy. If you must purchase a puppy, only use a licensed breeder.
“While the enforcement actions taken by law enforcement agencies are critical to detecting and deterring the illegal trade in low welfare puppies, public help is essential to combating this despicable trade.”
The group urged anyone with information about illegal dog breeding or sale to report it to authorities.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/29-puppies-rescued-as-part-of-crackdown-on-illegal-dog-trade-ahead-of-christmas-42223166.html 29 puppies rescued ahead of Christmas as part of fight against illegal dog trafficking