THE RSPCA has reiterated a warning not to buy puppies from Appleby Horse Fair after police seized puppies at the event yesterday.

The welfare charity said Cumbria Police had seized the animals as evidence of 'illegal puppy selling'.

“We're at Appleby Horse Fair again and continue to urge people not to buy puppies here," said an RSPCA spokesman.

“Yesterday police seized puppies as evidence of illegal puppy selling and handed them over to us. This is worrying given the numbers of poorly pups we dealt with last year.”

Earlier this week, the RSPCA advised visitors not to sell or buy puppies at the fair, where welfare officers will also be on hand to help with horses.

The annual gathering of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities began on Thursday, and typically sees up to 40,000 visitors across the four-day event.

Every year, a team from the RSPCA attends to be on-hand offering welfare advice and support for the hundreds of horses brought to the fair, joined by equine charities British Horse Society, Blue Cross, Bransby Horses, The Donkey Sanctuary, Oak Tree Animals Redwings Horse Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare - as well as a group of vets.

Last year, RSPCA Chief Inspector Rob Melloy and his team witnessed an ‘alarming’ number of puppies being sold and bought at the fair, many who were very sick, and he is keen to warn off people from doing so this year.

He said: “I can't emphasise enough to Appleby visitors, that buying a puppy from the fair is really not a good idea. Last year we saw a lot of puppies being sold and some were so sick they had to be put to sleep by a vet. It is so tragic, but if people continue to buy them at the fair, breeders will continue to bring them each year.

“We always recommend people adopt a rescue dog, but those who are looking to buy a puppy should do plenty of research to make sure they only buy from reputable breeders.

“The Puppy Contract is a really useful tool and we strongly urge people to follow our advice on how to avoid bad breeders.

“Similarly, we strongly advise people not to bring their own pet dogs to the event, as it's incredibly crowded and noisy, and there's no way they should ever be left in a vehicle either, so they are much better off at home.

Fair-goers can approach Rob and his team of RSPCA officers at the event if they have any concerns for animal welfare. They can also approach police officers and staff from the other attending welfare groups if they are concerned for the welfare of any horses, dogs or other animals present.