Police raid suspected puppy farm in Dagenham

A suspected illegal puppy farm selling designer dogs has been raided after people reported their pets dying just weeks after being bought, or suffering from debilitating illnesses.

Nine pedigree dogs and puppies were removed after a home in Dagenham was raided by council officers and police on Tuesday December 10.

It is believed that Staffordshire bull terriers, Boston terriers and husky puppies were being advertised on websites such as Gumtree and sold for at least £700 each.

Barking and Dagenham Police said in a statement on Twitter that it had assisted the council at “a suspected illegal puppy farm”.

Animal charities have warned about huskies being bred by illegal farms trying to cash in on their similarity to Direwolves in Game Of Thrones.

Nikita Lawrence, 32, reported the suspected illegal farm after she paid £700 for her Staffordshire bull terrier puppy, Loki, on September 22. He died five weeks later from heart failure.

She said: “There were 11 Staffie puppies, two adult dogs, who were supposedly the parents, and two huskies when I went there. The puppies were very small and I could see they already had them eating adult dog food.

“Loki was tiny and skinny…he weighed just over 5lb. I managed to get his weight up and then he stopped breathing properly. He couldn’t hold his urine or eat. I took him to the vets but he just got worse. The vet said he was in advanced heart failure and there was nothing they could have done.”

The mother-of-three said she decided to go to a breeder as she has young children and a lot of rescue centres did not have a dog suitable for their home.

“After Loki was put down I texted the breeder to tell them what had happened,” she said. “They told me ‘it’s your problem’. I was just bawling my eyes out. He was our family’s first dog. My children couldn’t understand, they still ask when he’s coming home.”

Ms Lawrence added: “I’ve spoken to other people who bought dogs from the same place and they have had a number of health problems. One woman’s puppy turned out to be deaf.”

A spokesman for Barking and Dagenham council said that “a number of residents” had reported the suspected farm.

He added: “With intelligence obtained from residents and other agencies, council officers obtained a warrant of entry… using powers under the Animal Welfare Act.

“Based on the conditions in the property and advice from RSPCA, we removed a number of dogs.”

The RSPCA said the dogs have been “placed in care pending further local authority and police enquiries”.

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Rachael Burford

Local Democracy Reporter