Port of Dover: Puppies drenched in oil rescued from van

The puppies were covered in oil Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The puppies were caked it oil, and had to be shaved to get it all out

Six puppies were found drenched in oil at a UK port after being smuggled in an "appalling" state to the UK.

The three Maltese, two Havanese and one bichon frise pups were spotted at the Port of Dover, Kent, after travelling from Romania, The Dogs Trust (DT) said.

Demand for puppies has risen in lockdown, leading people to be "dogfished" - duping into buying the smuggled dogs at inflated costs.

The pups had to be shaved in order for the oil to be removed.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption They were filthy and ill when the charity found them

The DT charity also saved 12 heavily pregnant females, which gave birth to 53 puppies, which could have been worth up to £100,000 to smugglers.

Paula Boyden, its veterinary director, said: "It is absolutely heartbreaking that we continue to see dogs being illegally imported into the country, often in terrible conditions to make huge profits for cruel puppy smugglers."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The Dogs Trust is urging people to buy puppies responsibly

The DT warned prospective buyers about being "dogfished", urging them not to be drawn to buy dogs via online adverts.

Ms Boyden added: "Sadly, it's all too easy to be dogfished.

"Always see a puppy interacting with their mum... Ask lots of questions, and ask to see vital paperwork.

"If you have any doubts or it feels too good to be true, as hard as it may be, walk away and report the seller."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Small breeds like Maltese and dachshunds are popular with smugglers

All the dogs - which had been taken away from their mothers far too early - are now in the charity's care and will be re-homed responsibly when they are fit and able.

The DT's Puppy Pilot scheme has rescued 1,167 dogs since it began in December 2015, with the most popular breeds including dachshunds, French bulldogs, Maltese and chow chows.

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