Search icon


16th Dec 2022

29 puppies rescued from illegal trafficking at Belfast Port

Sarah McKenna Barry

The puppies are now in the process of rehoming.

A multi-agency crackdown at Belfast Port saw 29 puppies be rescued from illegal trafficking.

The PSNI, the Department of Agriculture, Environmental and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Belfast Harbour Police and Belfast City Council were part of a crackdown on illegal puppy smuggling in the Paws for Thought Initiative.

The rescue came after officials noticed discrepancies in various paperwork. The puppies are now receiving care and are in the process of being re-homed.

In a statement, a spokesperson for DAERA noted that this time of year sees an increase in puppy trafficking.

They said: “At this time of year, the demand for a Christmas puppy is high, which fuels the trafficking of low welfare pups through our ports to sell them at an inflated price in Great Britain (GB). Innocent animal lovers are often duped into believing these pups have come from a reputable breeder. Quite often, pups that are being trafficked come from illegal breeding establishments known as ‘puppy farms’ where they are bred in horrendous conditions.”

DAERA outlined that there is a “zero tolerance” policy on illegal animal smuggling, and reiterated that reputable breeders will be able to have the correct paperwork to pass through with dogs.

Paws for Thought encouraged those interested in buying pets over Christmas to think long and hard about their decision, and pointed to the laws that are already in place.

They said: “We wish to reiterate our message that people think long and hard before deciding to get an animal this Christmas. Prospective dog owners should check the guidance available online before thinking about getting a pup. If you must buy a pup, only use a licenced breeder.”

They encouraged anyone with information about the illegal breeding and selling of puppies to report it to DAERA, the PSNI, the Harbour Police or Paws for Thought.