An animal welfare charity say they were heartbroken to find puppies licking horse manure in lieu of food or water in a horsebox in Enniscorthy.
Six of the puppies, which were found in the terrible conditions, have since died due to a suspected virus, while the charity is caring for the remaining animals.
The Wexford Society Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (WSPCA), alongside gardaí, rescued 12 puppies from a property near Enniscorthy.
They are appealing to people not to buy puppies or dogs unless they can be sure where they come from.
Barbara Bent, a director at Wexford SPCA, described the situation in which the young beagle crosses were rescued from.
“There were 16 of them in horsebox when we arrived. I’d say they all would have had the virus. They were too young to be away from their mother, and they were way too young to be in the predicament they were in. We’ve lost six of them so far,” Ms Bent said.
“Two of them are beginning to eat again, thank god, we hope they can pull through. The others are still very weak. It will be touch and go to get any of them out of it.
"It’s heartbreaking. It is horrible to see them in this condition. They were in a horsebox. They were licking horse manure to survive, there was no water and no food. It is a desperate environment for little ones to be left in."
Ms Bent said they were only permitted to take 12 of the puppies, but there were more dogs on the property.
She said the demand for dogs over lockdown, and the subsequent rise in prices, is fueling the number of dog thefts, with more and more dogs being found in conditions such as those in Enniscorthy.
“We just advise people, very strongly, if you're buying puppies at this time don’t buy puppies at the side of the road. Buy them somewhere you can vouch for. We have to clamp down on these guys who are selling puppies when we don’t know how they are getting them,” she said.
“The price of dogs has skyrocketed. The big concern now is how long will it last. Will it be a case of the Christmas puppy, and when the kids go back to school so to do the dogs. As long as there is a demand, the dogs are going to be continuously stolen. The people who are buying the dogs are promoting that demand.”
A garda spokesperson said an investigation into the matter is ongoing.
It is the latest in a spate of animal seizures in recent weeks around the country, including one in Limerick where 10 dogs were seized from a property last week.