MORE than 50 dogs were seized and six people arrested in dawn swoops today as part of investigation into suspected unlicensed puppy farms.
Raids on two farms and four homes were sparked by a year-long probe, sparked after people bought pets, some of which were later to be found suffering from serious illnesses.
They say some of the pets later died.
RSPCA inspectors said in some cases buyers were handed pups by breeders through car windows, with some travelling across the country after seeking out their new dogs online.
Shortly before 7am on Thursday, 50 police officers and 26 inspectors from the animal charity worked alongside three vets as searches were carried out.
Bracken Hill Livery Farm and Swan Castle Farm in Shotton Colliery, along with houses in Kier Hardie Terrace, Bruce Glazier Terrace and Bracken Ridge in the same village and another house in Windsor Terrace in Haswell were checked.
Operation Waxbill has resulted in six arrests under the Animal Welfare Act, with 42 dogs and 12 puppies seized.
RSPCA chief inspector Mark Gent said: “We’re really happy with how the operation has gone today in targeting six addresses, with six arrests and one to attend the police station later as a voluntary attender.
“There are 41 dogs and 12 puppies in total.
“We think a number of bitches we have removed will add to the total and we’re expecting a number of puppies, so there could be the potential of upwards of 100 puppies.
“The message is, where are people buying them from and who are they buying them from?
“This investigation has been going on for a year and we’ve been building up information and intelligence which has culminated in today.”