The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals confirmed yesterday that, to date, five consignments of puppies were seized at ports in Ireland and Scotland.
Law enforcement authorities took three consignments at the Scottish ferry port in Cairnryan, and two at Dublin Port.
The surge in seizures follows the launch 18 months ago of Operation Delphin, a multi-agency initiative to end the illegal trade in puppies.
Under the operation, investigators are using new powers to stop and search the vehicles of those it suspects of illegally trafficking puppies.
The latest consignment included 22 puppies and a pregnant dog. It was seized by gardaí at a checkpoint on Tuesday at Dublin Port.
The puppies, now in the care of the DSPCA, were travelling in a Ford Transit van with two men. The driver confirmed to gardaí that they were destined for export to Britain.
The puppies that appeared to be aged between eight and 10 weeks old were not microchipped and did not have the required passports.
The DSPCA said the seizure was sadly yet another example of the absence of any regard to the health and welfare of the animals by those involved in the illegal trafficking of puppies from Ireland.
“The DSPCA is cooperating with the other SPCA’s in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the UK together with the customs and taxation authorities in these islands, under Operation Delphin, to bring an end to this horrific trade,” it stated.
DSPCA spokesperson Gillian Bird said some consignments that had left Ireland were part of ongoing investigations.
“We are trying to find out where they are coming from and where they are going to so we can put an end to the trade,” said Ms Bird.
“A lot of puppy seizures that have taken place are chance finds, but the customs and police now know how to react when they come across a consignment.”
Anyone with puppies or dogs has to have permission to travel with them and all of the dogs have to be microchipped, vaccinated and have pet passports.
The DSPCA and the Scottish SPCA played a leading role in establishing Operation Delphin, and Ms Bird said she was happy with the joint endeavour.
“Prosecuting the offenders will lend weight to the process because we will be able to show what happens to them,” she said.
Ms Bird said the minimum age of a fully vaccinated dog with a pet passport was 15 weeks. “But nobody wants to buy a 15-week-old puppy, which is the main reason they are being smuggled out of the country.”