Stark warning after pups seized in port raid

The Scottish SPCA is urging the public not to buy puppies online after seizing 13 dogs from an illegal dealer.

Officers from the Society’s special investigations unit (SIU) swooped on Cairnryan port at the weekend where an individual travelling from Ireland was caught with 13 dogs of various breeds. The pups are just a few weeks old.


Whilst most of the pups are now lively and bright, two had to be rushed for emergency vet treatment as they were having respiratory issues. Whilst one has recovered, the other did not and the poor puppy had to be put to sleep.

Activity at the port has been quiet since the coronavirus lockdown started on March 23. In recent weeks, the SIU has reason to believe puppy traders may be beginning to move dogs again with the aim of selling them to unsuspecting members of the public.


The dogs are receiving urgent vet treatment and round-the-clock care at a Scottish SPCA animal rescue and rehoming centre. Although lively, they are in poor body condition, carrying diseases consistent with being bred in horrendous circumstances, and were filthy when found by inspectors.

Chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “The lockdown initially led to a dramatic decrease in activity in the puppy trade. However, we have been keeping a close eye on things and we are concerned traders and dealers are becoming more active again, even more so now lockdown restrictions have eased slightly in Scotland.”

“We cannot stress this enough: the supply for badly-bred puppies will only disappear if public demand stops. Every year, thousands of pups are dying alone and in pain, at just days or weeks old, to fuel the trade. We will continue to fight the puppy trade every step of the way, but we need each and every person to do their bit to help us stop it.

“Many responsible breeders put a hold on breeding during the pandemic, but we are aware of some breeders ramping up prices due to lack of supply. This could drive people to buy a puppy without doing their homework on where they are getting it from.”

“There are thousands of adverts on websites like Gumtree for puppies, but there is no guarantee you are buying from a responsible breeder when you shop online. Many dealers will use false names and phone numbers to sell a dog, making it impossible for a buyer to get a hold of them when the pup falls ill.”

The Scottish SPCA has been on the frontline of animal rescue throughout the pandemic, continuing to attend to urgent reports of animals in need. Since March 23, the Society’s inspectors and animal rescue officers have dealt with over 10,000 reports of animals in need.  The Scottish SPCA leads Operation Delphin, a UK-wide taskforce set up to disrupt the illicit puppy trade, which is believed to be worth £13m in Scotland alone. The Scotitsh SPCA works with other animal welfare charities, HMRC, Dumfries & Galloway Council and other private sector partners.

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