Crackdown on puppy farming industry in Northern Ireland
The USPCA says Northern Ireland is being used as a corridor to transport thousands of illegally bred puppies into the UK.
Ahead of the Christmas influx, the animal rights organisation said puppy farming has become a multi-million-pound industry which puts profit ahead of animal safety.
In 2017 alone, the USPCA has helped to rescue over 100 puppies from black market dealers.
It's understood that smaller 'designer' dogs and Husky-like dogs similar to those featured in Game of Thrones are most affected.
As part of Operation Delphin, the USPCA has joined forces with SPCAs in Scotland and Ireland along with the HMRC, port authorities and Stena Line.
USPCA chief executive Brendan Mullan said puppies brought illegally to Scotland were often removed from their mothers far too young, and were kept in cramped and dirty conditions.
David Wilson from the charity says Northern Ireland has now become "part of a rat-run" for puppy farms in the Republic of Ireland transporting the animals to Scotland.
"Thousands of pups a year are coming through Northern Ireland," he said. "It is an intelligence-led operation. I don't want to say too much about it but we have the contacts and the resources to disrupt the trade."
The USPCA advises people to rescue a pet where possible, but when considering buying a puppy to do so responsibly.