Seven people engaged in puppy trafficking have been stopped at Cairnryan, resulting in 140 puppies being seized and rehomed since January this year.
The seizures were the result of a pilot project developed in response to growing public concerns about the trade in imported farmed puppies being transported through Dumfries and Galloway.
Under the pilot Scottish SPCA inspectors have been authorised to ‘detain, return or destroy’ puppies that do not comply with legislation.
Dumfries and Galloway councillors have this week backed the extension of the pilot project between the Council and Scottish SPCA to help tackle the illicit puppy trade.
The council’s Economy, Environment & Infrastructure Committee were told there is a significant problem nationally in the illicit trade of puppies and that it impacts on Dumfries and Galloway as a large number of the puppies travel through its ports en route to their destinations elsewhere in the UK.
The local response came after a BBC documentary ‘The Dog Factory’, exposed a disturbing trade in puppies reared on puppy farms in the Republic of Ireland and sold throughout Scotland.
A pressure group was set up by members of the community who invited Stena, Police Scotland, Scottish SPCA, APHA and Council Officers to attend, as well as input from local and national politicians including Councillor Scobie, Richard Arkless MP, Joan McAlpine MSP and Emma Harper MSP which has now developed into a Working Group.
Councillors heard that by preventing the sale of these puppies the dealers lose the profit they were scheduled to make.
There has been a gradual but significant reduction in the number of adverts in Scotland for puppies since the pilot began and the SSPCA have noticed a reduction in the number of complaints about sick puppies being bought. However, this may increase again in the run up to Christmas.
An extended period of authorisation will allow Scottish SPCA Inspectors to continue to disrupt the puppy trade at Cairnryan and to follow through their investigations.
Committee chairman Colin Smyth said: “We simply can’t ignore this cruel trade in defenceless animals. These unscrupulous dealers are filling their pockets while having no concern for the wellbeing of the dogs or the long-term consequences of their intensive breeding programmes. It’s right and proper that we are doing all that we can to stamp out this illicit trade.”