Brits are being warned not to buy imported pets after the death of six puppies who were found stuffed into carrier bags and a guinea pig cage.
Police discovered 11 ‘very poorly’ puppies after they received a tip-off about a smell coming from a home in in Carlton, Nottinghamshire.
Officers found no puppies at the address but dog waste was found strewn across bedrooms and they spotted a ‘steamed up’ van parked nearby.
After breaking into the vehicle officers rescued the severely dehydrated and ‘visibly distressed’ puppies who were aged between two and four months and in an ‘appalling state’.
They were rushed to the RSPCA where vets made the sad discovery that eight of them had parvovirus.
The contagious condition causes severe vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration and is spread among dogs in poo particles.
Six of of the pups sadly died but five survived.
Two cocker spaniel puppies called Pearl and Pablo were adopted by a Nottinghamshire Police officer and the other by one of the vets who cared for them.
Vets also managed to save three Yorkshire Terriers.
Emerald, Opal and Topaz have been placed in new homes but are described as ‘incredibly anxious’.
It is believed the animals came from a puppy farm in Ireland where they were imported into the UK to sell on to unsuspecting dog lovers.
The RSPCA is now calling for a crackdown on puppy imports as the number of dogs being brought into the UK has surged during lockdown.
Prices of puppies have also increased as responsible breeders have scaled back due to the restrictions but demand has increased as Brits were stuck at home.
Ella Carpenter, manager of the RSPCA’s Radcliffe Animal Centre in Nottingham, said: “It was heartbreaking to see the puppies fall so ill so quickly. They were fighting for their little lives and, sadly, for six of them it was just too much. This is something we see time and time again with puppies who have been bred in poor conditions on puppy farms here and overseas.
“Diseases like parvovirus are rife in these conditions and can prove fatal for vulnerable pups. What’s frustrating is that it’s so easy to prevent these horrendous illnesses by ensuring there is a good level of biosecurity and by vaccinating.”
Puppies who come from puppy farms – where dogs are bred in high-volume, low-welfare conditions primarily for profit – often suffer serious illnesses, such as parvovirus, and can also face life-long health problems and behavioural issues due to their poor start in life.
“Yorkies Emerald, Opal and Topaz are all incredibly nervous and anxious,” Ella added.
“We often find this is the case for puppies who have come from puppy farms and have missed out on important socialisation opportunities during those vital first weeks and months.
“Thankfully we’ve found experienced homes for two of them and little Opal will also need the right owner who will be able to tackle these behaviour problems and slowly introduce him to all of the things he’s missed out on.”
Puppies who have been imported into the country from overseas often face significant health and behavioural challenges.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “We know that there are unscrupulous people out there who want to exploit the demand for dogs and are willing to take advantage of families who want to add a dog to their home.
“Sadly, this comes at the expense of the dogs.
“Puppies are being bred in poor conditions overseas and are taken from their mums too young, put into a van with lots of other puppies – the perfect breeding ground for nasty diseases and infections like parvovirus – before being travelled thousands of miles and imported into the country.
“Not only is this a major animal welfare issue for the dogs, but it also poses a significant public health risk.
“Most dogs have not had the correct vaccinations or health checks and could be bringing in serious diseases that could infect our own dog population or even be transferable to humans.”
A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police told the Mirror a 21-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of theft and fraud.
He has been released on bail under police investigation.