Belfast Telegraph

Hugo's story part of campaign to highlight puppy trade

The story of one of almost 100 puppies rescued from the illegal dog trade is being used to highlight the "shocking realities" of the industry which the RSPCA Cymru said impulse purchases could be fuelling.

Hugo the beagle was adopted by international Irish boxer Moira McElligott after being one of 96 saved during a multi-agency operation at Holyhead Port in North Wales in November 2016.

RSPCA Cymru is launching an interactive report telling Hugo's story and that of his fellow rescuees as a "timely reminder" of the "grim, horrifying illegal puppy market".

The puppies, including beagles, basset hounds, labradoodles and pomeranians - aged around six or seven weeks' old - were on two separate ferries arriving at Holyhead from Dublin in vehicles which were not ventilated.

They had not been provided with food and water and they were often kept in filthy conditions.

After being rescued, all but one survived and have now been rehomed.

Claire Lawson, RSPCA Cymru's, assistant director of external relations - who chaired the multi-agency task force, said Hugo would have been sold to unsuspecting new owners who, inadvertently, would be funding this "cruel, murky underground trade" if the RSPCA and other agencies had not stepped in.

She called on those planning to get a puppy to do their research and said the way to end the trade was for the public to better understand where puppies may have come from and "to not fuel the profits of such unscrupulous traders who have no regard for animal welfare".

"As we approach the Christmas season, temptation can sometimes lead people to add a cute, young puppy to their household that - in the longer-term - they simply don't want any more," she said.

"These impulse buys are often not well-researched, and can unwittingly fuel the illegal puppy trade."

Ms McElligott was boxing for Ireland at the European Championships in Bulgaria when she heard about the raid.

"Hugo instantly became part of the household, holding his own chair in the kitchen, and with much of the family wrapped around his paw," she said, adding that she was delighted Hugo and the 95 others had been rescued from "such an appalling start to life".

The report on Hugo is available on the RPSCA's website at

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