HUNGARY: Three people were arrested and later sentenced to six months imprisonment for animal trafficking, neglect, forging documents in connection with the smuggling of 22 purebred puppies from Hungary.
The court in the northeastern Italian city of Udine found two Hungarian nationals and one Italian from Gorizia guilty of the charges after finance police stopped their van on a highway for a random check in 2012. Inside, police found 22 puppies hidden in cramped and dirty conditions including boxers, chihuahuas, bull terriers, bulldogs, and West Highland terriers all under three months of age. The puppies were so filthy and dehydrated that two of them died within hours of being discovered by police.
The Hungarians were taking the puppies to the fashionable Italian city of Como, where their Italian partner had sold them. The surviving puppies were vetted and fostered out to local families, who were awarded permanent custody of the animals by the court. The fines are payable to Italy’s National Anti-Vivisection League (LAV). In a separate development, prosecutors placed eight suspected pet traffickers under investigation for animal abuse, abuse of the veterinary profession, fraud and forgery, sources said Tuesday. Italian forest rangers seized animals, assets and real estate from two dog breeders and a pet store in the area of Udine, which is located 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Slovenian border.
Prosecutors say the suspects trafficked expensive purebred puppies into Italy from Eastern European countries, forging their papers and tricking buyers into thinking they had been locally bred.
The moves came after a one-year investigation that included surveillance and tailing of suspects, the sources said.