More than 400 animals, mostly cats and dogs, have been rescued from an illegal trafficking network in Spain.


Spanish police said on Wednesday they had rescued over 400 animals, mostly dogs and cats, as part of an operation that dismantled an international pet trafficking ring and arrested 13 people.

The gang is suspected of illegally importing animals from Eastern Europe over distances of more than 2,000 kilometers in small, poorly ventilated vehicles, a police statement said.

It said the unsanitary conditions caused some of the animals to develop infectious diseases. Some died as a result of the abuse.

Authorities suspect the gang forged documents to misrepresent sick animals as healthy when selling them.

Police began their investigation in late 2020 after receiving several complaints about unsanitary conditions at a pet shop in central Barcelona.

Police subsequently rescued 33 sick dogs and discovered that the animals’ papers “showed obvious anomalies,” leading them to become interested in the pets’ origins.

Police said they recovered more than 400 animals and arrested 13 people as part of last month’s operation against the ring, which was active in Barcelona, ​​Madrid, Andorra and Eastern Europe.

Human trafficking can pose a public health risk because illegally bred pets are often unvaccinated and can transmit rabies, parasites and infectious diseases to people and livestock.

Consumers attracted by low prices often purchase pets online without realizing the risks.

The suspects are accused of animal cruelty, fraud, forgery and money laundering.

A new animal welfare law that came into force in Spain in September bans the purchase of pets in stores or online, but gives stores a grace period to find homes for their animals.

In the future, the purchase of pets will only be permitted from registered breeders.

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