New dog breeding standards and stricter license conditions are being developed in Carmarthenshire to help regulate the growing industry.
The council also promotes a licensed breeding system and wants the public’s help in reporting unauthorized commercial breeding.
A report presented to the council’s environmental and public protection review committee said organized crime was involved in the sector nationwide.
At a meeting, councilors heard that dogs from Eastern Europe and Ireland had been transported to Carmarthenshire for sale.
Cllr Philip Hughes, executive board member for public protection, said it was an emotional issue that was flagged in a recent BBC Wales documentary.
“I think it’s fair to say that as an authority, we haven’t done particularly well in this program,” he said.
But he said he believed Carmarthenshire was the most proactive authority to deal with ever-growing dog licensing issues.
He added: “We are in the process of developing new trading standards and strengthening licensing conditions, and these will be presented in the coming weeks.”
Carmarthenshire has 85 licensed dog breeders, of which around 10 have over 100 dogs.
A council official told the meeting that another 43 illegal breeders had been identified recently, mostly by monitoring social media and some internet sales platforms.
Successful prosecutions have brought in £275,000 for the authority in the past two years alone through the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The council has regulatory responsibility for licensing breeders who raise three or more litters in a 12 month period. It also licenses pet stores and dealers and investigates commercial breeding and pet store welfare issues.
Officers are giving advice to breeders – and have refused 23 licenses in 2019-20 so far, compared to nine refusals in 2018-19.
The committee was told that the legal process was slow, with court warrants needed to enter the property of someone who was not a licensed trader.
An officer said: “We have to be very sure before entering private property.
“We understand that there are private homes that are being used as breeding facilities, and we are taking active action.
“But the legal system is not a quick process.”
The officer also said council officials were meeting with the Welsh Government shortly to discuss the issues.
Welsh ministers are currently drafting legislation that would prohibit third parties such as pet shops or commercial dealers from selling puppies and kittens, unless they raise the animals themselves.
Carmarthenshire Council wants to focus its resources on illegal dog breeding, monitoring online activity and improving standards.
The review report said 18 breeders were eligible for its Certified Breeder Program, which would reassure buyers and boost the reputation of sellers.
Cllr Joseph Davies said if every buyer demanded to see a puppy with its mother, illegal breeding would be stamped out.
Cllr Hughes said: “We try to encourage breeders to join this ‘buy with confidence’ scheme.
“To get there, it’s a pretty rigid process. You have to have some checks done.”
He also said it’s frustrating that people who know about illegal farming don’t come forward to authorities.
Cllr Mansel Charles called for an investigative inquiry into the illegal breeding of dogs to be set up, but it was decided that a working committee and finishing group would be set up instead.
Committee chairman Cllr John James said the public had a role to play and added that many dog breeders complied with the regulations.
Cllr Hughes said after the meeting that he didn’t think the documentary program portrayed Authority in a good light, given the work he was doing.