‘The new drugs’: Northern Ireland gateway for £150m illegal puppy trade | Animal welfare

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Northern Ireland has turn into a gateway for an “abhorrent” multimillion pound illegal trade in puppies in Britain in what has been dubbed the new medicine trade by animal welfare investigators.

A BBC and Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals discovered that puppies are being bred within the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and being illegally moved throughout to Great Britain by Belfast port to cater for the rocketing demand for pets in the course of the Covid lockdown.

Ch Supt Mike Flynn from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals informed BBC’s Spotlight: “For the puppy trade in Scotland, I would say 90% of all problems come through Belfast. To me it’s the new drugs.”

The USPCA believes prison gangs have swapped their drug trade for illegal pet trafficking, which is estimated to have a worth of £150m a yr.

Many of puppies are raised in squalid situations on illegal farms and are malnourished or diseased and would in any other case not be bought, the USPCA discovered. The animal welfare charity believes about one-third of the puppies die, disappointing their new house owners, who will pay a whole lot of 1000’s of kilos for a pet.

The investigations comes as USPCA revealed a report, Puppy Dog Fortunes, exposing the dimensions and ruthlessness of the illegal puppy business feeding lockdown demand throughout the UK.

Dogs rescued by police in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland before lockdown.
Puppies rescued from breeders by police in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, earlier than lockdown. Photograph: PSNI/PA

It is assumed that about 25% of all canine in Britain have been purchased throughout lockdown, with many patrons admitting they did little analysis into the place they got here from, according to the Kennel Club.

Northern Ireland’s agriculture and surroundings minister, Edwin Poots, has condemned the trade as “abhorrent” and ordered an investigation.

Brendan Mullan, USPCA chief government, informed BBC’s Good Morning Ulster that the organisation’s undercover investigation, which had helped inform the BBC’s Spotlight programme, had proof of animal traffickers sourcing pups from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. “We are aware of 20 such transporters doing this. One does 120 dogs a week, and if you take the average price of £1,875 for a pup in GB, that individual has criminal proceeds of almost £16m a year.”

The Spotlight programme confirmed the sellers exchanging puppies at petrol stations and laybys for onward transport to Scotland.

The BBC undercover workforce recognized one seller who had bought sick and dying puppies on no less than 5 events in Scotland. One of the canine, purchased by the workforce, was discovered to have two intestinal parasites, which might make its sale a prison offence underneath Scottish regulation.

Mullan stated undercover investigators discovered the breeding bitches have been usually stored in squalid situations, in cages, overbred and abused.

“It is causing unthinkable suffering to thousands of dogs and that’s not to mention the people at the other end of the supply chain, the unsuspecting public who have to deal with the human tragedy attached to those sick dogs they have purchased. Every single one of them has underlying health issues. They might look like they are healthy initially, but I can guarantee that they are all going to get ill within weeks of purchase.”

Poots stated puppies, together with 10 springer spaniels, had been intercepted at Northern Ireland ports, however stated it was “not possible nor practical to stop every vehicle moving through Northern Ireland’s ports.”

Puppy Dog Fortunes uncovered 30 unlicensed puppy farms in Northern Ireland, and stated the pandemic had “driven some illegal breeders to go to shocking lengths to increase productivity”, together with holding animals in “battery conditions” in cages.

It stated the illegal trade was partly being pushed by the distinction in worth between puppies in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, but additionally stated traffickers have been in a position to exploit the absence of Lucy’s Law in Northern Ireland, a regulation named after a King Charles spaniel that suffered a number of well being points after being caged for breeding on a Welsh puppy farm. The regulation makes it illegal to promote puppies and kittens underneath six months outdated by a third-party vendor, reminiscent of a pet store or a business seller.

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