Partnership to tackle illegal trade in puppies after spate of bodies dumped in St Albans lane

Hogg End Lane, St Albans

Hogg End Lane, St Albans - Credit: Archant

The heartbreaking discovery of the bodies of more than a dozen puppies along a St Albans lane earlier this year has prompted a multi-agency bid to tackle the illegal trade.

The RSPCA, whose inspector Rachel Smith was called out when the bodies were found in Hogg End Lane on February 27, is joining forces with Herts Police and neighbouring Dacorum borough council in a bid to counter the illicit puppy trade.

The bodies of nine pups were found, thought to be between six and eight weeks old, and a mix of breeds. The decomposed remains of at least three other dogs were also discovered and when the RSPCA returned to the site several weeks later on March 18, the bodies of two further puppies were found.

Inspector Smith said: “They had obviously been recently dumped there as the bodies were still in rigor mortis and one of the puppies was covered in live fleas. It was heartbreaking to see them lying there, so thin and covered in sawdust.”

There have been a growing number of reports of incidents and crimes thought to be connected to the illegal puppy trade in the area and the three agencies have come together to educate the public about the dangers of buying from an irresponsible breeder or dealer and the other crimes associated with the underground puppy trade.

Although the puppies were found in St Albans, the district council does not have a dedicated animal welfare department which was why it was not part of the multi-agency approach to the problem.

A spokesperson said that if they received calls about illegal trading in puppies, they referred people to the RSPCA.

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Breeders are thought to target people, often vulnerable individuals, to use their homes to sell puppies, using the property as a meeting place after advertising the dogs online. They may use violence, intimidation or other coercive behaviour to get what they want.

Chief Inspector Ian Briggs from the RSPCA’s special operation unit said: “Previous cases have demonstrated the lengths some dealers will go to, making it look like the puppies they are selling have been bred in a homely environment.

“Puppy dealers are becoming increasingly savvy to make their dealings look legitimate. They rent houses and put a smattering of furniture in them to make it look like a family home, from which they peddle these sick puppies.”

Anyone who is approached to sell puppies from their home or know someone who has should contact police on 101 and anyone who believes they may have purchased a puppy from an unlicensed breeder or dealer or has concerns about the welfare of dogs and/or puppies at premises in the area should call the RSPCA 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999