Puppies found crammed in van saved from farm - and given new homes

  • Watch Katie Rowlett's report

Twenty four puppies which were bred on a puppy farm have been saved and re-homed by Gloucestershire Constabulary.

The animals were discovered after a van was pulled over by officers heading away from Cheltenham on the M6.

Around 40 pups were found inside - many near death.

In August, a member of the public called the Gloucestershire force because they were concerned about the number of puppies they had seen inside a van in Charlton Kings in Cheltenham.

More than 40 puppies were discovered crammed into crates by police. Credit: West Mercia Police

Gloucestershire Constabulary then put a marker on the van and it was picked up on the M6 by a neighbouring police force.

Inside officers found more than 40 puppies, crammed into crates and in poor health. Police feared they had been stolen.

A 24-year-old man from Durham was subsequently arrested on suspicion of the theft of the puppies.

DCI Claire Nutland, leading the investigation and rescue effort, said: "We had over 40 puppies in the van which is a really significant amount and obviously the complexity was really around trying to understand what had happened to them and how they were bred in the first place.

"Since the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of people do want dogs so the demand has increased significantly and unfortunately to meet that demand we do seem to have seen an increase in puppy farming."

Puppy farming is illegal and the puppies suffer and often die.

These pups were in such poor health that, despite everyone's best efforts, almost half of them did not survive.

Three of the rescued puppies. Credit: Gloucestershire Police

But 22 of them have now been re-homed into policing families.

DS Claire Sadler and her sister Lesley Amos have adopted Norbert, who is now five months old.

Lesley said: "He's certainly a fighter, he was so so poorly.

"He's loyal, he's fun. Now it's onwards and upwards."

Five-month-old Norbert. Credit: Gloucestershire Constabulary

DS Sadler said: "Well he's certainly spoilt, he hasn't just got myself and Lesley. He's got a network of family around him as well who are more than willing to help and take care and obviously a lot of my work colleagues are very keen to work whenever they can just to have a cuddle really."

This story has a happy ending but it could just as easily have gone the other way. I hope it encourages people that if they spot signs of animal cruelty to come forward as their concerns will be properly investigated by the Constabulary.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl

What is puppy farming?

Puppy farms are commercial breeders where multiple dogs are continually bred from, and the puppies sold for profit.

They are kept in poor conditions, often not health tested prior to breeding, or health checked after birth, and are rarely vaccinated.

They are placed under a great deal of stress during transport and are usually malnourished, meaning they are more likely to fall ill.

The adult and new born puppies rarely have any interaction with people or normal family homes, and so are poorly socialised which can lead to behavioural problems in the future.

Tips to avoid puppy farmers:

Gloucestershire Constabulary urges people to do their research before buying puppies online, and have the following tips:

  • Always use a reputable breeder. A list of assured breeders can be found on the Kennel Club website

  • Insist on visiting the puppies and seeing them with their litter mates and mother in the home

  • Never agree to meet or collect a puppy in a public place or to have the puppy delivered, as these are ways to stop you seeing where the puppy was born

  • Reputable breeders will rarely use outbuildings to bring up their puppies as they will know the importance of good socialisation in the home

  • Check if your breeder has posted any other adverts in the last three months as a puppy farm will likely be advertising several litters of different breeds at any one time

  • Check the wording of the advert as if it is vague or generic, it is likely a puppy farm, if it says the puppies are eight weeks old and fully vaccinated, it is likely a puppy farm as they cannot be fully vaccinated at that age

  • A responsible breeder will ask many questions about you, your family, and lifestyle, to make sure you will be a good home. Puppy farms do not care who their dogs go to, so will likely only be interested in payment and will not try to find out if you are an appropriate owner

  • If you have any doubts, do not buy, walk away and report the advert to the website it was posted on

  • Report potential licence breaches to the local authority

  • Report poor conditions to the RSPCA.

  • If you witness any cruelty, report to the police

The investigation relating to the 24-year-old man from Durham who was arrested in connection with the incident is still ongoing.