Cruel puppy smuggler handed dog ban following Scottish SPCA investigation

A man from Northern Ireland has been handed a 90-hour community payback order and 15-year ban on owning or keeping animals following a Scottish SPCA investigation.

The tiny pups were found covered in their own filth in the back of McCrea's Ford Transit van
Picture: Scottish SPCA
The tiny pups were found covered in their own filth in the back of McCrea's Ford Transit van Picture: Scottish SPCA

Three Border collie pups had to be put to sleep by a vet because of the suffering inflicted on them by Stephen McCrea.

MrCrea, 27, was caught with six sickly pups at the Port of Cairnryan in Wigtownshire in December 2020 as he travelled from his Belfast home to Scotland.

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He was found guilty at Stranraer Sheriff Court of failing to provide veterinary care which resulted in the unnecessary suffering under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.

Cute but dying: None of the puppies smuggled by cruel Stephen McCrea had been vaccinated - three had to be put down Pic: Scottish SPCA

The Scottish SPCA’s special investigation unit was alerted by Police Scotland examining officer who found the pups in the back of McCrea’s van after noticing a strong, pungent smell of urine emanating from the driver’s window.

The puppies were in the back of McCrea’s the van inside a filthy cage which was strewn with faeces and urine and they all appeared to be underweight and lethargic.

The six dogs were taken for emergency veterinary treatment and it was discovered none had been vaccinated against potentially deadly parvovirus. Three had to be put down on welfare grounds.

An undercover inspector from the Scottish SPCA’s special investigations unit said: “The trade in puppies coming over from Northern Ireland to be sold in Scotland is at a worrying level.

“We believe McCrea to be connected to the low-welfare puppy trade in Ireland. Puppies are smuggled in to the country, normally by ferry, and sold on for huge profit. The motivation is profit and no thought is given to animal welfare.

“It was clear all of these puppies needed to see a vet as they were all showing symptoms of parvovirus such as diarrhoea with blood and all were lethargic and underweight.

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“Despite expert treatment from our vets, three of the puppies’ health deteriorated and the sad decision was made to euthanise them on welfare grounds. The other three puppies responded to treatment and were taken to one of our animal rescue and rehoming centres."

Disrupting the multimillion pound industry is one of the animal charity’s main priorities, and its #SayNoToPuppyDealers campaign has received widespread public and cross-party political support. The Scottish SPCA aims to eliminate the low welfare puppy trade by 2032.