In a 2015 BBC News report documenting the UK puppy trade – worth hundreds of millions of pounds – an undercover investigator in Scotland told journalist Sam Poling just how lucrative the business could be for an unlicensed trader:
"Pups are sold wholesale for somewhere in the region of £150," he tells me. "The more dogs you buy, the cheaper you get them. You bring them across to Scotland and you sell them...in excess from £300-£750 depending on the breed you want. If you go for the more specialist breeds, for instance French bulldogs, it can be £1,500. It is all cash. People buy in cash. No one buys a pup other than cash."
Yesterday's puppy rescue was just the latest in the battle to rein in the trade in Europe. The RSPCA has launched a "Scrap the Puppy Trade" campaign, aimed at convincing the UK government to make licensing mandatory for anyone selling dogs in England, with stiff penalties for violators. They also suggest a national puppy seller database and a requirement that all online ads for puppies carry a verifiable dealer's license number.
"There is concern from many police forces about how criminals are seeking to make money from illegal and inappropriate puppy importation," said Gareth Pritchard, North Wales deputy chief constable, whose team participated in the Holyhead operation. "These activities can cause severe animal welfare problems and provide revenue for criminals."
Top Photo: Veterinarians check up on one of the rescued puppies. Credit: RSPCA