80 puppies seized by police in probe into dog trafficking and the sale of sick pets online

80 puppies seized by police in probe into dog trafficking and the sale of sick pets onlineA man and a woman were arrested after the puppies were discoveredPolice found four dead puppies, with two left in a bucket in a parked car

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UPDATED:

08:43 GMT, 30 November 2012

Their eyes looking imploringly up at the camera, their fur mostly fluff, these tiny puppies can hardly be more than a few weeks old.

But instead of being looked after by their mothers, or in loving homes, they were crammed into buckets with barely room to breathe – ready, it is thought, to be sold for Christmas presents by backstreet dealers.

The 87 puppies were found in a property in Offerton, Greater Manchester, in a joint police and RSPCA raid. Many were stuffed in buckets, which it is believed were used to snatch them from their mothers.

Help us: The puppies, which includes French Bulldogs, West Highland Terriers and Pomeranians, were crammed into plastic buckets

Help us: The puppies, which includes French Bulldogs, West Highland Terriers and Pomeranians, were crammed into plastic buckets

Trafficked: Over 80 puppies were seized in an investigation into the alleged sale of sick dogs on the internet

Trafficked: Over 80 puppies were seized in an investigation into the alleged sale of sick dogs on the internet

Four more were found dead, including two which had been dumped in a bucket in the footwell of a car.

The animals were of several different breeds, including French Bulldogs, West Highland Terriers and Pomeranians.

All were checked by an independent vet, and are now in the care of the RSPCA. Six were ill and are being treated.

A man has been arrested on suspicion
of breaching a ban on keeping animals and a woman was arrested on
suspicion of aiding and abetting him. Both were later bailed.

A man and a woman were arrested after the RSPCA recovered 87 imported puppies

A vet inspected the puppies and discovered that six were in need of treatment

A man and woman were arrested after 87 puppies were recovered including French bulldogs and Pomeranians

Mobile phones and computers were seized, as police suspected the puppies had been offered for sale over the internet.

Pedigree puppies can sell for 800 or
more, but unscrupulous dealers undercut legitimate breeders, selling the
animals in car parks, online and through pet shops.

Sergeant Mike Cooper, of Greater
Manchester Police, said: ‘We witnessed some shocking scenes yesterday
and we will do everything we can to assist the RSPCA in any future
prosecution or operation.’

Pomeranians (pictured) were found among the 87 puppies seized in the raid

Pomeranians (pictured) were found among the 87 puppies seized in the raid

French bulldogs were also found among the puppies

West Highland Terriers were also seized

French bulldogs (pictured left) and West Highland terriers (right) were also discovered by police and the RSPCA

Chief Inspector Ian Briggs, from the
RSPCA’s special operations unit, said: ‘There are thousands of dogs in
rescue centres desperately looking for new homes, but many people
continue to fuel the trade in imported puppies by buying from rogue
sellers who simply see the animals as money makers.

‘At this time of year especially, we want to hammer home the message that people should never buy a dog as a Christmas present.’

The RSPCA also urged anyone looking to
buy a dog to ensure they view puppies with their mother in the place
where they were bred.