A police raid on suspected dog dealers uncovered a large number of puppies crammed into three apartments – four of them hidden in a refrigerator.
The dogs were seized by police in the German cities of Cologne and Düsseldorf early on Thursday, December 3, and four women were arrested on suspicion of involvement in illegal dog trafficking.
Police in Cologne started their investigation into the suspected illegal pet trade after receiving information that allegedly vaccinated and microchipped young dog sledding was put up for sale online.
During their search in three apartments, the officers discovered several young poodles, schnauzers, French bulldogs, chihuahuas and maltese.
Four of the puppies were found crammed into an open, switched-off refrigerator in one of the apartments.
After a vet check, the puppies were then taken to animal shelters in Cologne where they received proper care.
Police say four women aged 20, 22, 42 and 61 are currently involved in the case and an investigation into illegal dog trafficking.
Cologne police publicly warned against giving dogs as Christmas presents: “The purchase of puppies whose origin cannot be traced and which are offered on the Internet or in markets, parking lots or other places promotes illegal and, above all, non-animal-friendly trade.
They added that very often puppies are abused by human traffickers, who give them up for adoption before they are ready to be separated from their mothers.
The Maltese puppies were at particularly high risk as the breed has been proven by inexperienced owners to be one of the most abandoned dog breeds due to its tendency to bark.
Puppy trade is a big business. In a session of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee late last year, it was revealed that criminal gangs are increasingly choosing to smuggle dogs on drugs because it is a low-risk crime with comparably high profit margins.