More than 80 puppies have been seized by police during an investigation into dog trafficking and the alleged sale of dogs on the internet.
The animals were discovered in “shocking” conditions in a series of police raids in Stockport and across Greater Manchester on Wednesday.
Police seized a total of 87 dogs, including French bulldogs, West Highland terriers and Pomeranians.
Four dead puppies were also found, and six that were in need of treatment. In one address at least six large plastic buckets filled with live puppies were discovered.
The RSPCA, who joined police on the raids, said the dogs were thought to have been bred in Ireland specifically for sale in Britain, before being smuggled into the country.
Chief Inspector Ian Briggs, from the RSPCA's special operations unit, said: "There are thousands of dogs in rescue centres desperately looking for new homes, but many people continue to fuel the trade in imported puppies by buying from rogue sellers who simply see the animals as money makers. He added that sellers can make “vast” amounts of money, with some dogs fetching up to £1000.
A man and a woman were arrested during the raids, and subsequently released on bail.
Sergeant Mike Cooper, from Greater Manchester Police, said officers who carried out the raids witnessed “shocking scenes”, and pledged to support the RSPCA stamping out puppy trafficking.
"People should only buy pets through the proper channels after considered thought and I would like to echo the RSPCA's sentiments that they should not be given as gifts this Christmas."
The raids came as one animal welfare charity warned that up to 1,000 dogs are being trafficked into Britain each week from unlicensed Irish puppy farms.
The ISPCA told the BBC huge numbers of puppies were being bred illegally in Ireland specifically for the UK market.
"There's no doubt that a large number of them are being trafficked out of the country every week through the Irish ports," the Irish charity’s chief inspector Conor Dowling told the BBC.
In October, 36 puppies packed into cardboard boxes were found in the back of two vans in Dublin. Two days later, another 56 puppies were seized by Irish police at Dublin Port and a further 26 dogs were discovered in the back of a horse box in Tipperary.Reuse content