Harrowing photos of the bodies of tiny puppies littering a verge by the side of a road have been released by the RSPCA.
The pictures (below) show the bodies of nine pups strewn among the undergrowth and alongside the rubbish on a verge in Hertfordshire.
A member of the public spotted the bodies dumped in a ditch in Hogg End Lane, St Albans (pictured left), on Saturday 27 February.
The pups – thought to be a mix of terriers and collie-types – are believed to be between six and eight-weeks-old.
RSPCA animal collection officer Kate Wright responded to the call and went to the location. She said: “We had reports of collapsed puppies in a ditch and I rushed over to the site and there they were. There had been no effort to cover them up.
“They were obviously already dead, and had been dead for a day or two.
“They were all covered in sawdust and some looked skinny. The little pads on their paws were red raw like they’d been living in urine. They absolutely stank.
“I had a look around the area and, in the same ditch, I found decomposed corpses, bones and fur. I realised the horror that this ditch is obviously used on a regular basis – it was heartbreaking.
“I found the remains of at least three other dogs as well as more bones. There were different stages of decomposed bodies and most of them were very old.
“It was grim, really awful. It really upset me. It makes you wonder what kind of life they had before.”
RSPCA canine focus officer Rachel Smith, who is investigating, added: “I’d say this lane is used regularly for dumping the bodies of dead dogs. We’ve had a steady influx of calls over recent months.”
ACO Wright added: “There was nothing to suggest how these puppies had died. My immediate thought was that they had come from some sort of puppy farm.”
In January, the RSPCA was called to the area after the bodies of puppies were found inside a suitcase which was taken away by police. And remains were also found at the site last autumn.
The distressing photos come as the RSPCA campaigns for the introduction of new legislation to better protect dogs and puppies being bred for sale.
The animal welfare charity launched the Scrap the Puppy Trade campaign in England, in October, in response to an 88% increase in the number of calls about the puppy trade over three years.
The campaign aims to educate the public on sourcing puppies responsibly, and is also calling on Westminster government to introduce laws to combat puppy dealers. We are calling for mandatory licensing for anyone selling puppies in England to try to hit the puppy trade as a whole.
Inspector Smith advised members of the public to be vigilant if buying a puppy: “My advice for the consumer would be that if something doesn’t seem right, don’t buy the puppy. Walk away and contact us or the local authority immediately.
“We are working alongside other agencies such as the police and Trading Standards to try to tackle this abhorrent trade in innocent lives – but it’s everyone’s responsibility to help us uncover these unscrupulous breeders and to help us bring a halt to this illegal and unregulated industry.
“The reality is that if we don’t work together to fight the trade, more sick puppies will not receive the care they need and could end up dumped in this manner.
“These breeders and dealers don’t care about the welfare of these dogs, they only care about the money.”