A pet shop chain at the centre of puppy-farming allegations has this week denied any wrongdoing.

Petsville International, which has stores in Sutton and Kingston, was accused of keeping up to 20 dogs in cramped cages and buying them in from unscrupulous puppy-farm dealers in Ireland.

The practice is fiercely opposed by animal rights campaigners and involves dogs being “over-bred” in cramped conditions.

Young puppies are then transported hundreds of miles in cages.

Investigators who visited Petsville in Kingston, with a reporter from the Daily Mail newspaper, were concerned about dogs with weepy eyes and in a dirty state.

An ex-veterinary nurse said that she believed one had an “overshot” jaw and worms.

A company spokesman said he was also considering legal action against the Daily Mail, which claimed the paperwork was illegible, making it hard to trace the dealers, and prospective buyers were not able to see the puppies’ mothers, something the RSPCA recommends.

Owners at the shop have vehemently denied the allegations, insisting all their puppies were bought from licensed breeders or local families.

A spokesman for the company confirmed he had bought dogs from Ireland but denied links with Ireland’s biggest puppy-farmer, John Boland.

He said the dogs mentioned in the Daily Mail investigation were given a clean bill of health by vets afterwards and the cage sizes were “more than adequate” according to a national charter.

The shop, which also has a branch in Sutton, has been no stranger to controversy over the past few years.

Campaign group South East Animal Rights lists it as one of its top priorities in the last five years and the RSPCA investigated the Sutton shop in autumn after receiving complaints from worried animal lovers.

The case was later dropped because of lack of evidence.

Complaints have also been made to Kingston Council about the health of the company’s dogs, after a springer spaniel puppy died just three weeks after being bought on January 6 this year.

Four complaints were made to the council last year, but none were substantiated.

Owner Garry Green had to stump up a £1,200 for veterinary fees when 14-week-old Alfie was diagnosed with a cough and a heart murmur.

Mr Green said he never received a full medical history report for the dog, despite several requests for it.

The Petsville spokesman said the shop offered the services of their own vet and this was declined.

A full £522 refund was given for Alfie and half the vet’s bill was paid.