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Criminal Gangs Funded by Online Sales of Christmas Puppies

Authorities are cautioning families against buying dogs in online puppy sales as Christmas gifts, as per BBC. This is because of concerns that such transactions may be funding criminal gangs. Officials issued the advisory note after prosecutors discovered that social media sales of unlawfully bred puppies have been providing a substantial income for these illegal organizations. Reports indicate that this market amounted to £13 million in Scotland last year. In fact, some designer dog breeds even fetch prices up to £3,000.

Kenny Donnelly, the deputy crown agent for specialist casework at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), stated that illegal puppy farming has largely expanded within major organized crime syndicates as a source of funding.

“It plays a part in financing crime in Scotland,” he said. “These gangs are involved in the distribution of illegal drugs and money laundering.”

Consequently, Donnelly notes the urgency for potential puppy buyers to actively educate themselves about the drawbacks tied to not buying from authorized dog breeders. Unintentionally backing this harsh and illegal business, he explained, exploits pets and subjects them to considerable distress.

Throughout this year, the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) — an animal welfare charity — has reported that it received 336 calls relating to suspected puppy farms and breeding. The charity further mentioned that many animals often end up experiencing serious health issues. These either lead to large vet expenses for their owners or cause the puppies to be so unwell they can’t survive their initial few months.

According to the Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent, Mike Flynn, the puppy trade has slowed down due to the end of the COVID-19 lockdown and the ongoing cost of living crisis. Nevertheless, he warned that some deceitful breeders are still targeting unsuspecting individuals.

“Our message to the general public remains the same — do not buy online or from someone where it is impossible to verify where the dog is actually coming from,” Flynn said.

Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Ferry from Police Scotland reinforced this view, adding that criminals will exploit any situation for profit, and dog breeding is no exception. He advised potential puppy buyers to thoroughly research breeders, as unauthorized breeding significantly affects the well-being of dogs.


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