PSNI application to rehome seized puppies granted
More than 30 dogs saved from Coalisland puppy farms are to be rehomed after a court granted a PSNI application.
The matter was brought before Dungannon Magistrates Court less than a week after more than 70 officers carried out searches of premises in Coalisland.
Dogs and puppies of various breeds were recovered - including Jack Russell, Bichon Fraise, Cocker Spaniel, King Charles Spaniel and Pug.
Yesterday, a police officer said a number of people are being investigated for fraud by false representation after complaints from customers when issues arose after purchase.
The dogs were advertised on the internet as vet-certified and immunised, but within a week of purchase, owners discovered this was incorrect.
Puppies were sold for between £300 and £500.
A defence lawyer acting on behalf of both people named on court papers, who cannot be identified at this stage due to ongoing investigations, confirmed neither were in attendance.
He said there was no objection to the police application as "both deny ownership of the dogs".
District Judge Michael Ranaghan enquired if the dogs had been checked by vets and was advised this had been done, although blood test results remain outstanding in respect of some.
Police requested the judge to order any of the dogs found to be unfit to be put down, but only in the event a vet deemed it necessary to prevent suffering.
Judge Ranaghan stated: "I will grant this.
"The (persons) are showing no interest.
"The dogs are to be freed for rehoming when the time is right.
"A vet can take a decision on euthanising if they so decide."
Ahead of concluding the court a police officer told the court: "There has been significant public attention to this matter and there has been a vast response offering homes.
"While it is well-intentioned, we are not at that stage yet, but we will notify the public when the time for rehoming comes."
Speaking after the dogs were recovered last week, Inspector Joanne Gibson said: "This joint operation involving our partner agencies has resulted in disrupting this activity and ensuring that further people do not fall victim to buying puppies in these circumstances.
"I would like to thank both the public and our partner agencies for their assistance during the operation.
"Buying puppies from illegal breeders can have devastating results.
"Often these puppies die a short time after purchase or end up with infectious diseases such as parvovirus which is expensive to treat and often fatal. They can also suffer behavioural issues relating to fear and anxiety due to poor or no socialisation.
"It can be tempting to buy a puppy in these circumstances and often purchasers recognise things are not quite right.
"It is normal to want to 'rescue' a puppy in these circumstances but people must remember they are fuelling and supporting what is a particularly lucrative criminal industry."
The investigation is continuing and police have appealed for anyone with information or who may have purchased a puppy from the Mid Ulster area over the last six months - including any which have since passed away - to contact officers on 101.