Northern Ireland

30 dogs stopped travelling from Northern Ireland ports

The puppies were turned back from ferries at Larne and Belfast in the run up to Christmas Image copyright Department of Agriculture
Image caption The puppies were turned back from ferries at Larne and Belfast in the run up to Christmas

More than 30 dogs have been stopped from being transported from Northern Ireland ports in an operation to prevent puppy trafficking.

The animals were turned back from ferries at Larne and Belfast in the run up to Christmas.

Several investigations are now under way.

Some of the animals were voluntarily surrendered to animal welfare officers. Others were returned to the premises they had come from.

A total of 760 vehicles were stopped and searched at the two ports.

Image copyright Department of Agriculture
Image caption Several investigations have now started

The joint operation involved officials from the Department of Agriculture and the Environment and several councils.

It was mounted following concerns regarding potential illegal movements of commercial consignments of dogs.

It focused on the welfare of the animals during transport, the identification of the animals and the licensing and registration of dog breeding businesses.

In the case of dogs moving from the Irish Republic, checks were also made that they had pet passports and complied with relevant trade requirements.

Image copyright PA
Image caption More than 500 vehicles were inspected at the port of Belfast during the operation

As part of the investigations, information will be shared with enforcement bodies in Great Britain and the Irish Republic.

Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen said the operation showed the illegal movement of dogs through Northern Ireland's ports would not be tolerated.

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