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. Four dead puppies were also found, and six that were in need of treatment. At one address six large buckets filled with live puppies were discovered. A man and a woman were arrested during the raids and subsequently released on bail.
The RSPCA said the dogs were thought to have been bred in Ireland for sale in Britain.
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 £1,000.
The raids came as one charity warned that up to 1,000 dogs are being trafficked into Britain a week from unlicensed Irish puppy farms.
The ISPCA said huge numbers of puppies were being bred illegally in Ireland for the UK market. “A large number of them are being trafficked out of the country every week,” the charity’s chief inspector Conor Dowling told the BBC.