Police in Mid Ulster have rescued 31 dogs, including puppies following a proactive operation in the Coalisland area.
Inspector Joanne Gibson said: “Local officers, assisted by partner agencies conducted searches at five properties in the area. The searches were in relation to suspected fraud offences related to the sale of puppies in Mid Ulster.
“All of the animals have been seized by PSNI as part of our investigation.
“Two men aged 43 and 42 years old were arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation. Both men have subsequently been bailed pending further enquiries.
“This joint operation involving our partner agencies has resulted in disrupting this activity and ensuring that further people do not fall victim to buying puppies in these circumstances. I would like to thank both the public and our partner agencies for their assistance during the operation.
“Buying puppies from illegal breeders can have devastating results. Often these puppies die a short time after purchase or end up with infectious diseases such as parvovirus which is expensive to treat and often fatal. They can also suffer behavioural issues relating to fear and anxiety due to poor or no socialisation. It can be tempting to buy a puppy in these circumstances and often purchasers recognise things are not quite right. It is normal to want to ‘rescue’ a puppy in these circumstances but people must remember they are fuelling and supporting what is a particularly lucrative criminal industry.
“Our enquiries are continuing and we would appeal to anyone who may have purchased a puppy from the Mid Ulster area over the last six months, to contact police on 101 quoting reference number 915 05/12/19. If any of these animals have tragically passed away, we would ask owners to contact police to assist with our ongoing investigation.
“We would urge members of the local community to be alert and vigilant of any suspicious activity involving the sale of puppies. If you believe you have knowledge of an illegal breeding establishment in operation then please contact your local Council Dog Warden – for Mid Ulster District Council please ring 03000 132 132 and to report a welfare concern please contact 028 8225 6226 to speak to an Animal Welfare Officer.”