Nearly 90 dogs and puppies have been seized during a raid at what animal welfare officers believe to be Scotland’s largest puppy farm.
Scottish SPCA officers executed a warrant at East Mains of Ardlogie farm near Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, on Tuesday.
Puppies that vets said could be as young as five days old, and of various breeds, were taken to a centre in Glasgow amid concern for their welfare.
A number of other animals, including rabbits and ferrets, were also seized.
An SSPCA officer from the special investigations unit said: “With the numbers of puppies that we have got here, these are certainly not pets. They are clearly being used for illegal breeding.
“As far as I know there are no licences here in terms of breeding or a pet shop licence so these dogs are being sold illegally to members of the public.”
The charity believes the puppies are passed off as home-bred by a dealer, before being sold to members of the public via the internet.
Veterinary surgeon Harry Howarth, who assisted with the operation, said: “The welfare of these dogs has been compromised.
“All these environmental problems that we are picking up are going to cause unnecessary risk of disease and poor health, which is going to cause pain and suffering and death to some of these dogs.
“There are all sorts of welfare rules being broken here. When you look at the puppies, they are not blooming, thriving puppies the way they should be, they look like puppy-farm puppies.”
One man, who arrived at the farm during the raid, told officers there was nothing wrong with the dogs.
The SSPCA said inquiries to establish ownership of the puppies and dogs that were seized are continuing.
The organisation carried out the operation with Police Scotland using warrants obtained under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2006 (Scotland).