Dog breeding

Task force targets criminals linked to dog breeding

Detectives from the Garda Crime Task Force are investigating a new network of criminals they say are linked to the illegal breeding of dogs in the country, a senior police officer said.

It has also emerged that dozens of dogs are being imported to Dublin from Eastern Europe, many placed in vans with limited access to food and water, then driven for miles. In some cases, dogs are deliberately hidden in vehicles so as not to arouse suspicion.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) has described the large number of dogs passing through Dublin port as a “worrying trend” and cites concerns over proper transport as one of the main issues of the organization.

While most people have all the necessary documents, some are “slipping through the cracks”.

Last month two vans were spotted in Dublin port believed to be from Eastern Europe with more than 10 dogs trapped in small cages in the back. In another case, a number of dogs were discovered in the back of a van in cramped conditions, sitting among large amounts of feces and trash.

With animal lovers on the hunt for pets during the lockdown, criminals are taking advantage of Covid-19 restrictions, Guard Sgt. Conor Scully said. Last week, his agents rescued 32 dogs and dismantled an alleged illegal puppy farm at a stopping site in north Dublin, where they discovered chihuahuas, Jack Russell’s and pugs worth around € 150,000.

“We are targeting serious crime and have found that some people get involved in puppy farms because they believe there is a lot of money to be made,” said Sgt Scully. “If you buy one of these dogs, you are funding crime, which seems to be an emerging operation here.”

ISPCA Chief Inspector Conor Dowling said the “repercussions” of the current demand to buy dogs is something the general public “should be aware of” and he also warned against the dangers posed by Brexit, saying: “There is speculation that people could move dogs from Dublin all the way north and into Britain to avoid formalities if that comes into play.”