A Darlington man and woman have been arrested following an investigation into illegal dog breeding.
The two suspects were arrested last week in the Firthmoor area of Darlington on suspicion of money laundering, breeding without a license and fraud by false representation.
They were questioned by officers and have since been released under investigation to allow further investigation.
Read more: Darlington man behind bars after spate of burglaries in town
The arrests follow a joint investigation, carried out by Durham County Council’s Trading Standards team with the support of Durham Police.
Sergeant James Woodcock, of the Darlington Neighborhood Police Team, said: “It has become clear that organized crime and criminals are using dog breeding to generate wealth and support other illegal activities.
“Breeding without a license not only raises animal welfare concerns, but the lack of regulation can also fund dog theft as new animals are needed to meet demand.
“I urge people in Darlington to research where they buy animals from and follow the advice of the RSPCA and other animal placement charities.”
Durham Constabulary confirmed on Wednesday August 11 that inquiries are continuing.
Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s Community Protective Services Manager, said: ‘We are working with our partners to continue to tackle illegal dog farming across the county and raise awareness of the problem.
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“It’s really important that people know who they’re buying a dog from.
“Choosing a responsible, licensed breeder will increase your chances of owning a happy, healthy dog.
“I therefore encourage everyone to do their homework before agreeing to buy a puppy, or considering rehoming a dog through charity to provide them with a loving home.”
An animal activity license is required for anyone who operates a breeding establishment (including private homes) for dogs that meets the following conditions:
- If in a 12 month period their dogs give birth to three or more litters whether or not they are in the business of breeding and selling dogs.
- Anyone “in the business” of breeding and selling dogs must be licensed regardless of the number of litters they have in a 12 month period.
A license is also required for someone selling puppies as a business, regardless of the number of litters they have per year. The commercial test is income over £1000 where they clearly advertise puppies for sale (either themselves or through proxy sellers).
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