The bodies of nine puppies were found dumped by the side of the road, with RSPCA bosses describing the scene as “heartbreaking”.
A member of the public spotted the pups in a ditch on February 27, on a country lane between Maylands Industrial Estate, Hemel, and the Redbourn Road linking St Albans and Redbourn.
All nine bodies were found covered in sawdust and some looked skinny. The pads on their paws were red raw, suggesting the animals had been living in urine.
RSPCA animal collection officer Kate Wright said: “We had reports of collapsed puppies in a ditch and I rushed over to the site and there they were. There had been no effort to cover them up.
“They were obviously already dead, and had been for a day or two. They were all covered in sawdust and some looked skinny.
“The little pads on their paws were red raw like they’d been living in urine. They absolutely stank.
“I had a look around the area and, in the same ditch, I found decomposed corpses, bones and fur.”
She added: “It was grim, really awful. It really upset me. It makes you wonder what kind of life they had before.”
The RSCPA say that this area is used relatively often for dumping animals, and used the incident as an example of why potential pet owners should always take care before buying an animal.
RSPCA canine focus officer Rachel Smith, who is investigating this incident, said: “If something doesn’t seem right, don’t buy the puppy. Walk away and contact us or the local authority immediately.
“We are working alongside other agencies such as the police and Trading Standards to try to tackle this abhorrent trade in innocent lives but it’s everyone’s responsibility to help us uncover these unscrupulous breeders and to help us bring a halt to this illegal and unregulated industry.
“The reality is that if we don’t work together to fight the trade, more sick puppies will not receive the care they need and could end up dumped in this manner.
“These breeders and dealers don’t care about the welfare of these dogs, they only care about the money.”