Inspectors seize 27 Irish puppies being smuggled to Scotland
Animal inspectors seized 27 puppies smuggled out of Ireland to a Scottish port.
The Scottish SPCA recovered the animals early on Wednesday at Cairnryan in Dumfries and Galloway as part of Operation Delphin.
Various breeds were discovered locked in cages in large wooden containers in the random stop by ports police at Cairnryan.
It is estimated they would have been sold for at least £600 (€680) each.
An undercover inspector said thousands of dogs are smuggled into the country each year from Ireland, in particular from large-scale puppy farms.
"They are then sold on at huge profit by the dealers," the inspector said.
All of the animals were returned to Ireland, where they are being cared for by the ISPCA while investigations are ongoing.
The operation involved Stena Line, Police Scotland, Trading Standards, HMRC and UK and Ireland animal welfare charities including USPCA, DSPCA, ISPCA and RSPCA.
The undercover inspector added: "The illegal trade in puppies is still a major issue.
"The welfare of the breeding bitch and the puppies is compromised due to intensive breeding regimes and causes distress to the families who purchase these puppies.
"When trafficked pups reach their new owner via the dealers, they often develop diseases such as parvovirus and giardia.
"Often the young dogs die from these diseases which can be extremely distressing for the owners."
Charities have issued advice to anyone considering buying a puppy.
"Always view the mother of any puppies that are for sale when the pups are still feeding from the mother, where possible it is best to view both parents. Never buy a puppy from a car park or allow for home delivery without visiting the breeder's premises."