More than five million pounds recovered from tax-dodging underground puppy farmers

Puppies seized in operation Delphin. Photo from: Scottish SPCA
Puppies seized in operation Delphin. Photo from: Scottish SPCA
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More than five million pounds has been recovered in tax from underground puppy farmers.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) set up a taskforce to target illicit dog breeders who sell pups on the black market

The taskforce, established in October 2015, uncovered fraudsters selling puppies on a mass scale and for a huge profit.

However, due to the underground nature of puppy farms, the puppy farmers did not declare their sales.

Since the formation of the taskforce, HMRC has used a range of civil and criminal enforcement powers to recover the tax.

HMRC has recovered £5,393,035 in lost taxes.

This is from 257 separate cases.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, said: “It is utterly appalling that anyone would want to treat puppies in such an inhumane way and on such a scale.

"It’s also deeply unfair to all of the legitimate businesses who do pay the right tax, and the total recovered by the taskforce is equivalent to the annual salaries for more than 200 newly qualified teachers.

“We continue to work hard with other government agencies and our partners to tackle these traders."

HMRC is also involved in Operation Delphin – a multi-agency collaboration across the UK and Ireland, designed to tackle illegal puppy smuggling and the consequences it brings. It is led by the Scottish SPCA.

The head of the Scottish SPCA’s Special Investigations Unit, who cannot be named due to his undercover operations, said: "Unfortunately, the puppy trade is big business with thousands of dogs being brought into the country each year, particularly from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"It is a multi-million pound industry and many of these poor dogs are bred on large scale puppy farms with little to no regard for their welfare.

"Often these puppies are kept in appalling conditions and this leads to injuries, health issues and behavioural problems. Some are so far gone that they pass away from complications due to the way they are bred and kept.

“The efforts of all involved in the taskforce have helped us to make inroads into this brutal trade but it is a growing problem.

“Last year nearly half of all animals seized by the Scottish SPCA were rescued from puppy farms and I would urge everyone to sign the pledge #SayNoToPuppyDealers and send a clear message that this cruel trade has to end.”

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