Hundreds of puppies and cats rescued in massive animal trafficking bust

Hundreds of animals – mostly cats and dogs – have been rescued from a human animal trafficking network in Spain.

Four police forces in Spain began an investigation into an illegal animal trade ring after a complaint about a centre in Barcelona in 2020. Officers said the network spanned Madrid, Andorra, Eastern European countries, and the Catalan city, selling animals regardless of their health.

Last month officers say they raided 12 establishments discovering a number of “high-value breeds” of dogs at the centres being investigated.

Now the Mossos d’Esquadra – Police of Catalonia – said 13 people have been arrested as part of the investigation. They have been arrested on suspicion of animal abuse, fraud, falsification of documents and money laundering, police said.

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Officers said the dogs were often transported on long road journeys – around 2,000km – in vehicles with limited space and poor ventilation. It said they were kept in spaces without light and adequate space to go to the toilet.

In some cases, animals were in transit for up to 20 hours. This, police said, meant some of the animals died before being sold or shortly after.

Police said customers would buy the animals because of their low price. They said a vet would then sign papers to say the dogs were considered healthy.

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However, officers became aware of the alleged trafficking ring after 33 animals fell ill at one centre in Barcelona. Police say they found this was due to a lack of care, that led them to allegedly forged documents and passports.

Then on September 20, they were able to swoop in and make the arrests. According to Sky, a new animal welfare law took effect in Spain last month, which bans the sale of pets in shops or online.

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