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Trading Standards An investigation into illegal dog breeding resulted in the seizure and disposal of a significant number of dogs

The dogs are currently being repatriated

A seven-month investigation by Trading Standards Wales’ regional investigation team culminated in a multi-agency operation undertaken last week.

The operation saw 15 dogs seized due to injury or serious suffering in the conditions they were found in, as well as nearly 200 dogs signed by a suspected illegal puppy breeder in Wales. The seller’s assets have been frozen under the Proceeds of Crime Act while the investigation continues.

Due to the nature of ongoing investigations, no further information is being released on the action taken by officers at this stage, suffice it to say that this is a detailed case involving officers of the local authority, Dyfed Powys Police, Veterinary Medicines Directorate, Natural Resources Wales, RCVS and the RSPCA.

The dogs are currently being rehomed with support from Dogs Trust, RSPCA, West Wales Poundies and Hope Rescue.

Gareth Walters, Trading Standards Wales’ strategic manager for animal health and welfare, commented; “This is a successful outcome for the first of a number of planned operations and is the result of significant partnership work supported by the National Trading Standards Regional Survey Team and the Welsh Government and is essential to support local authorities who would be unable to deal with this level of crime in isolation.

“Unlicensed puppy dealers prioritize profit over animal welfare – they want to generate the maximum profit for the absolute minimum of effort and investment. The business is attractive because of the large profits, designer pedigree dogs having an average price of £2,000 but often selling for £5,000 and stallions charging even higher fees.As with other types of illicit trade, those involved are often engaged in d other criminal activities including the distribution of illegal drugs, money laundering and tax evasion Dogs are just a commodity to them.

“To tackle this problem we need to work in partnership with other agencies, this is a great example where relatively little funding in commercial standards has achieved a much bigger outcome.”

Clive Jones from the National Trading Standards Regional Survey Team (Wales) commented; “In recent years the industry has been infiltrated by unscrupulous individuals, often involved in other criminal activities, who sell puppies from illegal puppy farms. The pandemic has increased demand and subsequently profits and the acerbic practices of the criminals.The team has done a wonderful job of getting to this point, but it is still in its infancy in terms of ongoing investigations and bringing these cases to court.

“Making themselves breeders, unlicensed dealers advertise puppies in newspapers, magazines and, most often, online. They attract consumers by promoting the fact that the puppies are complete pedigrees; however, this does not guarantee quality. Many consumers then find themselves paying a high price, both financially and emotionally, for puppies raised in dire conditions. When this happens, consumers have little or no chance of receiving compensation, especially since the majority of transactions involving puppies are done in cash.

Trading Standards Wales, through the ongoing Dog Breeding Project, is looking at a number of proposals for existing legislation and future improvements that can be made to support legitimate industry in Wales. The first part of this process will see the launch of an online .Gov.Wales information system which will provide a single point of reference for all things dog breeding in Wales.

It often happens that dogs bred illegally by unlicensed breeders are kept in appalling conditions, susceptible to disease and health issues without proper measures being put in place. Puppies may be at risk for congenital health issues and may not have been properly vaccinated, for example against rabies, thus endangering the health of other animals and the general public.

Infectious diseases can spread easily in unlicensed puppy farms. One of the most common is parvovirus, a highly contagious viral disease that can lead to fatal illness. Little or no attention is paid to the health and welfare of the animals and many are contained in small enclosures which means they never see the light of day. In addition to health issues, illegally bred dogs can exhibit a range of behavioral issues and fail to meet legal requirements that legitimate commercial breeders are required to meet through socialization and improvement plans.

The more you know about what to consider when buying a new pet, the more you can protect yourself and play a role in eradicating this cruel practice. If you are considering getting a new puppy, consider adopting from a shelter or find a legitimate breeder through an assured puppy breeding program and/or the Kennel Club UK.

Beware of online advertisements for puppies. A free online tool that encourages the responsible breeding and purchase of puppies called the “Puppy Contract” can be used by both dog breeders and anyone considering buying a new puppy. You can find it at The Puppy Contract – for responsible puppy breeding and buying.

Anyone considering getting a new puppy should contact their local veterinary practice for advice and use the puppy contract to avoid buying a bred puppy. If a seller is unwilling to provide the information listed in the puppy’s contract or allow you to see the puppy interact with its mother, you should walk away.

If you are concerned that your puppy was raised as a result of a puppy farm or know of someone who may be involved in an unlicensed puppy farm, also contact your local council’s trading standards.

Any information about illegal dog breeding can be forwarded to Trading Standards Wales via email wtsintel@newport.gov.uk or report it to Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit http://crimestoppers-uk.org .

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