PUPPIES found on a farm were being reared illegally for commercial sale to the general public without a proper licence.
That was the verdict of the licensing team sent by Wealden District Council to search a farm premises in an undisclosed location in the Sussex Express region.
Some 19 pups were found after the joint raid by council officers and the RSPCA following complaints just before Christmas.
No adult dogs were found during the search and all the puppies were fit and healthy, according to the RSPCA.
Colin Pateman, animal welfare licensing officer, said: “Always ask questions about a puppy’s parents if you are buying a dog from someone.
“And ask to see the parents if possible.
“Commercial sellers should have a proper pet shop licence, which means the premises can be regularly inspected to make sure conditions are suitable and the animals are being properly fed, watered and their veterinary needs catered for.
“If you do not take proper care as a buyer, you could be encouraging illegal puppy farming operations, some of which are selling puppies imported from overseas.”
None of the puppies were removed from the farm after the RSPCE declared them all healthy.
But the owner of the business will have to cease trading after the puppies have been sold.
Wealden District Council has launched a full investigation into the matter.
It retains the option to prosecute at a later date if the owner of the business continues to sell dogs unlawfully, a council spokesman said.
Cllr Susan Stedman, chairman of the Wealden licensing committee, said: “The activities of commercial dog sellers are covered by the pet shop licence.
“They apply to anyone who is in the business of selling animals as pets.
“This ensures that regular inspections are made and the welfare of the animals can be properly supervised.”
More information about pet shop and dog breeding licenses can be found on the Wealden website www.wealden.gov.uk