Cologne (dpa / lnw) - The police have freed several dogs from three apartments in Cologne and Düsseldorf - including four puppies from a refrigerator.
Police in Cologne reported on Thursday that four women are being investigated for the illegal trade in dogs.
The investigators discovered several poodle schnauzers, French bulldogs and Chihuahuas - puppies and adult animals - in the partially littered apartments.
In Cologne, one of the women forced four Maltese puppies into a refrigerator with the door open.
"She hid them there when we came," said a police spokeswoman.
The cooling was not switched on.
Veterinarians supported the mission in the morning.
The state of health of the dogs was initially unclear.
They should be given into the care of animal shelters, the spokeswoman said.
The police had come across suspicious women in online sales portals following evidence of allegedly vaccinated and chipped young dogs.
It remains to be determined whether they smuggled the animals or whether they came from abroad.
The police warned against animal gifts for Christmas.
The purchase of puppies with an incomprehensible origin on the Internet, in markets or parking lots promotes illegal and non-animal-friendly trade.
According to animal rights activists, young dogs are often given up before they can eat on their own, and they are often in great agony.