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The Scottish SPCA is spearheading a multi-agency fight against the ruthless puppy trading industry.
Inspectors from our Special Investigations Unit featured in last night’s BBC Scotland Investigates: Britain’s Puppy Dealers Exposed.
The head of our SIU, who cannot be identified due to his work undercover, said, "Unfortunately, the puppy trade is big business in Scotland, with thousands of dogs being brought into the country each year, from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in particular.
“We are working in partnership with a number of organisations and agencies to execute Operation Delphin, an operation set up as part of the fight against those involved in this criminal activity.
“Stena Line, Police Scotland, HMRC and several animal welfare organisations have all come together for the first time, which is testament to everyone’s commitment to tackle this growing problem.
“We are acting on the information received to identify those operating in this cruel business and have seized many dogs and reported a number of people to the Procurator Fiscal since Operation Delphin began.
“The pups involved are often bred in awful conditions and can suffer from serious illnesses which can be fatal. This is heartbreaking for the new owners, who can lose their pet in horrendous circumstances and be left with huge veterinary bills.
“Female dogs are subject to an intensive breeding regime year after year, with little to no human contact and this has serious welfare implications.
“Anyone buying a puppy should ensure they see the dogs in a home environment with the mother.
“Although the BBC show highlighted a new tactic being used where a ‘show bitch’ is brought in to look like the pup’s mother, buyers can ensure they are not being deceived by insisting on visiting the pup while it is still feeding from its mother and reserving it until it is old enough to be rehomed.
“Any legitimate breeder will not have a problem with this and if any excuse is made as to why this is not possible, potential buyers should walk away and contact us.
“No one should ever buy a puppy in a public place such as a car park and it should set alarm bells ringing if this is suggested by the seller.
“Although it may be difficult for animal lovers not to let their hearts rule their heads, they should not be tempted to buy the puppy anyway as, while they may be rescuing one dog, they will only be lining the pockets of the breeders and traders and causing even more misery for more dogs in the long run.
“Anyone with concerns about the puppy trading industry should call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999. Information is received in strict confidence and can be left anonymously.”