More than 100 puppies were seized by animal welfare chiefs last night to stop them being illegally smuggled out of Ireland.
The 116 puppies – believed to be between five to eight weeks of age - were discovered in the back of two vans boarding a ferry at Dublin Port for the UK.
The puppies have been taken in to care by the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA), which collected the animals with the assistance of customs officers, gardai and the Department of Agriculture.
No arrests were made at the scene and foster homes will be needed for the pups as investigations continue.
The DSPCA said 32 of the puppies are in veterinary care suffering from diarrhoea, possibly from a virus or being so young and enclosed.
“The breeds of the puppies include a variety of small breeds and were destined for the UK market,” it said.
It is understood the seizure was part of a long-term investigation and focused on one particular vehicle.
It is alleged one of the vehicles was not certified for transporting animals and that the puppies did not have access to fresh water.
None of the puppies had a pet passport, which is required under legislation. However one cannot be issued until a puppy is 15 weeks old.
Gillian Bird, DSPCA spokeswoman, said the puppies were separated in the back of the vans in to breeds, which included Pugs, Huskies, Cockers, Yorkshire Terriers and designer breeds like the Labradoodles and Cavachons.
All have since been micro-chipped and each was given a 15 minute veterinary check to examine their eyes, body and overall condition.
Ms Bird said most of the puppies were in fairly good condition, apart from being young, but 32 needed veterinary care.
“This is the first case, involving a large number of companion animals, to be seized under the new Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 which commenced on 6 March 2014," the DSPCA added
In October 2012, almost 100 puppies were rescued by officials who believed they were also being brought to the UK for sale.