Traffic police rescued 20 puppies from the car of a noted animal trafficker on the motorway near Cassino south of Rome on the night of 28 August.
The police found the malnourished puppies – 19 Maltese and one French Bulldog – kept in plastic boxes in the boot of the driver's Renault Clio. The animals are aged about two months and have an estimated commercial value of €800 each.
The Slovakian driver – who was arrested for failing to possess adequate documents for the puppies – was already charged in May for transporting 36 puppies in violation of veterinary standards.
The puppies have been treated by veterinarians and are currently recovering in a specialist kennel unit.