SEVEN people questioned following a police operation targeting suspected puppy farms have been released on bail.
Five men and two women were arrested under the Animal Welfare Act during the operation in East Durham.
The raids were carried out at Bracken Hill Livery Stables, in Shotton Lane, and Swan Castle Farm, off Salter’s Lane, both Shotton Colliery, as well as homes in Kier Hardie Terrace, Bruce Glazier Terrace and Bracken Ridge in the village and Windsor Terrace in Haswell.
Fifty police officers, 26 RSPCA officers and three vets worked together on the searches shortly before 7am on Thursday.
Six were arrested during the morning operation and the final person came by arrangement to Peterlee police office later in the day as a voluntary attender.
All seven were interviewed by police and RSPCA staff before being released on bail until early May, pending further enquiries.
Their ages range from 25 to 54 and they are all residents of Shotton Colliery or Haswell.
More than 50 dogs and puppies that were recovered during the operation have been examined by vets and are now in the care of the RSPCA.
The RSPCA expects some of the bitches seized will give birth to litters, leading them to expect around 100 dogs to be involved in the operation in time.
Anyone with information about the unregulated sale of puppies should contact police on 101 or ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.