TRADING Standards teams raided premises at a traveller site suspected of being involved in illegal puppy trading.

Officers were joined by joined Sussex Police and RSPCA officers for the operation at Horsdean Traveller site in Brighton yesterday morning.

The raid comes as part of an investigation into "the illegal sale of a significant number of puppies in the city". 

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: "This morning, our Trading Standards team raided four premises on the Horsdean traveller site in Brighton as well as two other properties.

The Argus:

"Four puppies and a bitch dog were taken as well as a number of electronic devices and documentation in relation to alleged offences under consumer protection legislation and breaching of animal welfare rules regarding dog breeding (Lucy’s Law).

"The investigation is continuing with a view to prosecuting anyone involved in this illegal and appalling trade."

Several police vans pulled into the site at about 8am yesterday.

A large number of officers were seen to climb out of the vehicles and begin searching the area.

One passerby told The Argus that, at one point, they had seen what appeared to be a "stand-off" between police and people at the site.

Both police and the RSPCA confirmed their attendance but said they would not be commenting further on the "ongoing investigation".

Investigating the puppy trade is a key focus in the RSPCA's work, and the animal charity has previously warned that the industry is growing.

The Argus:

Its website states: "To date, the illegal puppy trade has meant lifelong suffering for huge numbers of puppies and dogs.

"Thousands of people have also been affected, who have unwittingly bought seriously ill animals with potential behavioural problems.

"Many of these puppies are bred in appalling conditions, resulting in their physical and mental suffering."

The Argus:

A new law was brought in by the UK government on April 6 this year in an attempt to prevent this from continuing.

The legislation bans the sale of puppies and kittens in England from third parties, meaning anyone wanting to buy or adopt a puppy or kitten must go directly to a breeder or rehoming centre.