Watch: 70 stolen dogs found in search for missing spaniels
Footage shows the conditions 70 stolen dogs were kept in after being discovered by a pet breeder who was searching for his own missing spaniels.
Dozens of dogs worth £40,000 were kept in cages and roaming free at a site in Carmarthenshire, Wales, as the coronavirus lockdowns drove demand for pets and led to a spike in canine thefts.
Tony Cronin, a breeder, launched an investigation after two litters of puppies and five of his spaniels went missing, and a tip-off about a possible dog theft racket led him to the site.
Police were then called to make two arrests.
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Footage shows a variety of dogs in cages and crates, some under lights and others in darker conditions.
Some appear intrigued or happy to see a person and wag their tails while some look visibly timid and wary.
Cronin said: "It was very really well hidden which is why they use it, and as we were going up the track a huge group of dogs came out to greet us.
"There were Westies, Labradors, pugs – everything running at us barking like mad.
"Right in the middle of the group was one of my own dogs running towards me, her tail was between her legs as she was frightened.
"She was quite timid and then she saw me and she ran towards me and leaped into my arms and that was that."
Police say 22 dogs have been returned to their owners but 46 remain in kennels.
Dog Lost, a site for missing pets, has reported a 170% rise in stolen dogs. The cost of puppies more than doubled amid the lockdowns and restrictions imposed throughout 2020, and coincided with a rise in dog theft cases.
Superintendent Robyn Mason, of Dyfed Powys Police, said: "Dog theft has certainly increased with more people wanting dogs during the pandemic.
"The cost of dogs is going up which means there’s more traction for people to steal the dogs and sell them so it has definitely increased over the last year."
The RSPCA has also urged people to guard against fraudsters posing as representatives from the charity, and said its inspectors and rescue officers wear branded uniforms and carry identification.
Two people arrested in connection with the 70 dog thefts have been released on bail.
The footage was broadcast on Welsh channel S4C on Wednesday.
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