A seven-month trading standards investigation into puppy farming in Wales has led to the rescue of over 200 neglected dogs.

Trading Standards Wales regional investigation team's multi-agency operation saw 15 dogs seized due to injuries or serious suffering in the conditions they were found, as well as nearly 200 dogs being signed over by an alleged illegal puppy farmer.

Assets of the seller have been frozen under the Proceeds of Crime Act while the investigation continues.

The operation also involved Powys County Council, Dyfed Powys Police, Veterinary Medicines Directorate, Natural Resources Wales, RCVS and the RSPCA.

The dogs are currently being rehomed with the support of Dogs Trust, RSPCA, West Wales Poundies and Hope Rescue.

Gareth Walters, Trading Standards Wales strategic lead for animal health and welfare said the operation was the first of a number of similar planned swoops.

"This comes as a result of some significant partnership work supported by the National Trading Standards regional investigation team and Welsh Government and is critical in supporting local authorities who would be unable to deal with this level of criminality in isolation," he said.

"Unlicensed puppy dealers prioritise profit over animal welfare – they want to generate the maximum amount of profit for the absolute minimum amount of effort and investment.

"The trade is attractive because of the large profits, with designer breed dogs having average price tags of £2,000, but often selling for £5,000 and stud dogs commanding fees even higher.

"As with other types of illicit trade, the people involved are often engaged in other criminal activity, including the distribution of illegal drugs, money laundering and tax avoidance. Dogs are just a commodity for them."

Trading standards officers say anyone thinking of getting a new puppy should speak to their local veterinary practice for advice and use the Puppy Contract to avoid purchasing a puppy farmed dog.

The advice also says that if a seller is not willing to provide the information listed in the Puppy Contract or allow you to see the puppy interacting with its mother, then you should walk away.

Clive Jones added: "In recent years the industry has been infiltrated by unscrupulous individuals, often involved in other criminal activities, who sell puppies obtained from illegal puppy farms.

"The pandemic has increased demand and subsequently the profits and sharp practices of criminals.

"The team have done a tremendous job to get to this point, but it is still early days in terms of ongoing investigations and bringing these cases before the courts."

Any information on illegal dog breeding can be passed to Trading Standards Wales via email or reported to Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.

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