An operation at Northern Ireland ports to stop the illegal movement of dogs has led to the recovery of more than 30 puppies.
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), together with Mid and East Antrim Council and Belfast City Council, conducted a series of checks.
Between 3 and 10 December, they carried out more than 2,000 vehicle checks at Belfast and Larne. This joined-up working between DAERA and the councils resulted in 34 puppies being found - none were in Larne - that did not have the correct paperwork and, in some cases, were kept in inadequate conditions.
Speaking after the operation, Jackie Robinson, head of Animal Health and Welfare policy in DAERA, said: “Trading in pups is viewed by some as a lucrative, low risk venture, and it can attract unlicensed breeders who have little regard for welfare standards. Animal welfare can be compromised at all stages of this illegal trade, from the dogs’ living and transportation conditions, their poor health, and their lack of socialisation.
“However, checks at Northern Ireland’s ports are carried out regularly to ensure that dogs being moved through the ports have the relevant paperwork and are in compliance with welfare and transport legislation. The illegal movement of dogs through our ports will not be tolerated.
“Anyone who may have information on the illegal movement of dogs or an illegal breeding establishment can contact the relevant authorities.”
Patricia Allen, chair of the Local Government Animal Welfare Project Board, said: “Councils give a high priority to the welfare of domestic pets and operate a rigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirements.
“Councils are taking follow-up action in terms of the puppies found during this particular exercise. We will send out a clear message that we take robust action to ensure that the welfare of animals is protected.”