Five addresses believed to be involved in puppy farming were recently raided by police and animal welfare officials.
Four addresses in Stoke-on-Trent and one in Newcastle-under-Lyme were targeted by officers from Staffordshire Police and the RSPCA in a joint operation that came on the back of recent appeals to the public not to “fuel illegal sales”.
Five people were arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation under the Fraud Act and animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act.
Staffordshire Police said it would continue its fight against the “unlawful” and “cruel” sale of seriously poorly puppies across the county. Arrested were two women aged 42 and 22 and three men aged 42, 27 and 24.
Det St Laura Agu, of Staffordshire Police, who planned the operation, said: “The properties were searched, and numerous items seized while the investigation into the cruel and unlawful sale and breeding of puppies and fraud takes place.
“Items seized include a large amount of cash and various items to do with the keeping of puppies at the properties. Sadly, no puppies were rescued on this occasion.
“Staffordshire Police and the RSPCA wish to thank the large number of members of the public who came forward to report and raise the issue to our attention so we can undertake proactive work to disrupt and prevent this type of criminality.”
Staffordshire Police is continuing to investigate reports of puppy farms and the illicit trading of pets in the county, with officers warning that owners can be heading for heartache if their new addition is suffering from serious health conditions.
Officers reminded people considering getting a puppy to stick with reputable breeders or use established rescue centres.
Responsible breeders will be happy to:
• Spend time chatting and arrange to meet the puppies – and their mother – in the place the litter was born and raised;
• Allow people to have more than one meeting with the puppies to ensure the would-be owner and the puppy are compatible;
• Answer questions and likely to ask new owners several to make sure the puppies are going to a good home;
• Gladly produce a local authority licence if they are breeding/selling pets as a business or to make a profit;
• Provide genuine paperwork, which may include certificates for vaccinations, microchipping, worming, and results of any health tests;
• Agree to completing and signing a puppy contract – this can be further researched on the RSPCA website or puppycontract.org.uk.
Responsible breeders will not:
• Pressure people into parting with any money;
• Make excuses to stop people seeing the puppy’s mother by claiming she’s at the vet, asleep, or out walking – an absence of the mother generally indicates the puppies weren’t bred there;
• Arrange to deliver the puppy to a random location;
• Claim signs of health issues such as snoring are normal.
DS Agu added: “Always remember, if something doesn’t feel right it usually isn’t.”