Puppy smuggling is huge problem, says DSPCA
Hundreds of Irish-bred puppies are being smuggled out of Dublin Port each day bound for the lucrative UK market, animal welfare officers believe.
The seizure of 116 puppies at Dublin Port on Wednesday night uncovered a highly organised scam in which the dogs are being bred here, smuggled out of the country illegally and sold on to unscrupulous dealers in the UK who will flog them to unsuspecting buyers online or through notices in local veterinary surgeries or classified ads, according to DSPCA spokeswoman Gillian Bird.
Judging by the size of this week's seizure and the potential profits involved, it's believed that similar-sized shipments are being smuggled out on each passenger-car ferry crossing from Dublin to Holyhead, several times a day, she said.
"This is just the tiniest drop in the ocean," she said of the seizure on the 8pm Irish Ferries crossing.
"We suspect this is happening on every shipment. This is puppy trading. It's an easy way of making a lot of money."
Acting on intelligence gathered during a six-month operation, Customs swooped on a transit van which it believed was transporting the animals illegally but found the puppies - some only four weeks old - in the back of not one but two vans without pet passports requiring a minimum age of 15 weeks and medical records. They also had no access to food or water.
Judging by the array of 11 breeds involved, animal welfare officials believe the puppies are being sourced to order from UK dealers in which specific breeds are sought here.
The DSPCA can't confirm at this stage whether the seized puppies were bred to order in so-called puppy farms or if they were sourced by amateur breeders.