A seven-month investigation led by the Trading Standards Wales regional investigation team saw 15 dogs seized due to injuries or serious suffering.

Nearly 200 dogs were also signed over by an alleged illegal puppy farmer, with assets of the seller frozen under the Proceeds of Crime Act whilst the investigation continues.

Due to the nature of ongoing enquiries, further information is not being released on the action conducted by officers at this point.

The case involves officers from the Local Authority, Dyfed Powys Police, Veterinary Medicines Directorate, Natural Resources Wales, RCVS and the RSPCA.

The dogs are currently being rehomed with the support of Dogs Trust, RSPCA, West Wales Poundies and Hope Rescue.

"This is a successful outcome for the first of a number of operations planned," said Gareth Walters, Trading Standards Wales Strategic Lead for animal health and welfare.

"It comes as a result of some significant partnership work supported by the National Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team and Welsh Government.

"It is critical in supporting Local Authorities who would be unable to deal with this level of criminality in isolation.

“Unlicensed puppy dealers prioritise profit over animal welfare – they want to generate the maximum amount of profit for the absolute minimum amount of effort and investment.

"The trade is attractive because of the large profits, with designer breed dogs having average price tags of £2,000, but often selling for £5,000 and stud dogs commanding fees even higher.

"As with other types of illicit trade, the people involved are often engaged in other criminal activity, including the distribution of illegal drugs, money laundering and tax avoidance. Dogs are just a commodity for them.

“To fight this problem, we have to work in partnership with other agencies, this is a great example of where a relatively small amount of funding into Trading Standards has enabled a much bigger outcome to be achieved.”

Clive Jones of National Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team (Wales) said: “In recent years the industry has been infiltrated by unscrupulous individuals, often involved in other criminal activities, who sell puppies obtained from illegal puppy farms.

"The pandemic has increased demand and subsequently the profits and sharp practices of criminals.

"The team have done a tremendous job to get to this point, but it is still early days in terms of ongoing investigations and bringing these cases before the courts.

“Posing as breeders, unlicensed dealers advertise puppies in newspapers, magazines and, most commonly, online.

"They lure consumers by promoting the fact that the puppies are complete pedigrees; however, this does not guarantee quality.

"Many consumers then find themselves having to pay a high cost, both financially and emotionally, for puppies reared in awful circumstances.

"When this happens, consumers have little or no chance of receiving compensation, particularly as the majority of transactions involving puppies are cash in hand.”

Any information on illegal dog breeding can be passed to Trading Standards Wales via the email wtsintel@newport.gov.uk or report it to Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.