People who have fallen victim to illegal puppy farms are being urged to contact animal cruelty investigators.
The Scottish SPCA, Scotland’s animal welfare charity, is looking for members of the public who may have fallen foul of unscrupulous puppy dealers in the North-east to share their stories.
An undercover inspector said: “We’re looking for anyone who has bought a puppy in the past 12 months which has become seriously ill, or died, shortly after purchase.
“If you suspect you bought a puppy from a puppy farm in North-east Scotland we strongly encourage you to get in touch with our animal helpline.
“Calls are confidential and will greatly assist our efforts of tackling the despicable illegal puppy trade.”
The inspector added: “We’re spearheading the multi-agency fight against the illegal puppy trade. Operation Delphin aims to tackle the illegal trade in puppies by detecting offenders, disrupting illicit trade and reducing animal suffering, but we need the victims of these criminals to come forward.”
Last November the SSPCA seized more than 100 animals following a raid on a suspected North-east puppy farm as part of Operation Delphin.
Scottish SPCA officers executed a warrant and took 85 dogs and puppies into its care, with 105 animals in total confiscated.
A charity spokesman said: “Shutting down individuals in this cruel trade helps hundreds of puppies and dogs who are exposed to unsanitary living conditions.
“As a result of the breeding regimen and the conditions the pups are kept in before being sold, a large number suffer from diseases and infections such as giardia and parvo virus.
“Not only does this result in high vet bills for unsuspecting new owners, but it causes a great deal of unnecessary suffering to the dogs and in some circumstances can result in death.
“While Operation Delphin helps identify traders and sellers, we want to continue building on its success and bring the entire trade to an end.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact the SSPCA on 03000 999 999.