DNA analysis solved the theft of a litter of American Staffordshire terriers in inland Banyeres.
Five puppies, each worth up to €600, were taken from their mother last December when they were only three weeks old.
The Guardia Civil’s Ibi-based ROCA rural crime unit who took over the investigation suspected that with Christmas approaching they could have been sold as presents.
They provided Alicante province’s College of Veterinary Surgeons with photos and details of the stolen litter, asking vets to contact the authorities if they treated any puppy answering their description.
In late January, an Alcoy clinic treated a female American Staffy puppy whose owner explained that he bought it for €200 from a person who assured him that it was his own dog.
The rightful owner, shown the puppy, was unsure of its identity until the Ibi officers suggested DNA testing by Guardia Civil experts in Madrid.
The dog was confirmed as one of the stolen litter and the seller, a 27-year-old Spanish man from Cocentaina, was arrested and charged with theft.
Meanwhile, the Guardia Civil are now trying to trace the other dogs.