Police in Helsinki are investigating a case of animal cruelty, after more than two dozen badly neglected dogs were found in a woman’s home in the east of the city.
The discovery was made earlier this month by officers, assisted by the City Veterinarian’s office, and found 26 dogs in the apartment. The animals different breeds and ages, and being kept in dark, cramped conditions. They were malnourished, sick, and living in their own excrement.
Four of the dogs had to be put down by vets, in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act because they were too badly neglected to survive.
Police say the dogs had been brought illegally from Estonia to Finland, and didn’t have the proper licensing or vaccination paperwork for importing animals. Some came originally from non-EU countries where rabies and certain parasites harmful to humans are endemic.
“We are trying to investigate the extent of the crimes, and the amount of criminal gain earned, in the pre-trial investigation” says Anne Hietala from Helsinki Police.
“We ask anyone who thinks they may have acquired a dog from the suspect to contact police. She has been selling dogs at online sales websites and through social media. We know that she has been using the nicknames ‘Kornelia’ and ‘Lea’. Buyers are not suspected of a crime, and the police are not targeting people who bought dogs” says Hietala.
During questioning, the suspect admits that she brought the dogs mainly from Estonia. She is also likely facing smuggling charges, in addition to animal cruelty or neglect charges.
Illegal puppy sales continue if there is a demand
Helsinki Police says that anyone who buys a dog under dodgy circumstances could be promoting criminal activity.
“Criminals continue this activity as long as Finns buy animals that are illegally imported. This issue has been around for years and citizens are expected to be aware of it” says Hietala.
“As long as there is demand, there is also supply” she says.
Officers say that while the purchase price of one of these dogs might be low, the costs will increase if it has to go regularly to the vet, or if it dies quickly.
“Criminals are not interested in what kind of conditions puppies come from, and what kind of diseases they may have. The criminal is happy when he gets his money. After that, his interest in it ends” says Anne Hietala.
To notify the City Veterinary Services or the police about suspected illegal puppy trades or neglected and abused animals, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 112 in an emergency.