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Jail Sentences for Gang Selling Sick Puppies

13 August 2015

UK - Members of an organised gang estimated to have made more than £8,000 a week selling sick, diseased and dying puppies have been jailed after one of our biggest ever investigations into the puppy trade.

Lifting the lid on the puppy trade

An investigation, led by us has, lifted the lid on the trade in puppies, which were being sold for over £600 each.

After being purchased, many of the puppies subsequently died or needed lengthy and expensive veterinary treatment due to their poor health.

The defendants - all from the Greater Manchester area - admitted a string of animal welfare offences linked to organised crime involving the sale of sick puppies. They were sentenced at Oldham Magistrates’ Court.

The dark side of buying puppies 

Two of the six defendants were sentenced to 20 weeks in custody, a further 10 weeks custody was given to a third dependant.

A fourth defendant was given a 12 week custodial sentence which was suspended for 12 months. They must carry out 250 hours unpaid work during a 12 month community order and also pay £1,000 costs.

The remaining defendants were sentenced to 20 weeks custody, which will be suspended for 12 months. They must also carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and pay £2,000 costs. All six defendants were banned from keeping dogs for the rest of their lives.

A major investigation for us

The case against the six defendants was part of a major investigation known as Operation Pagan, which has been led by our Special Operations Unit. Read more about our special operation unit's work to uncover large-scale and organised animal cruelty.

A total of 39 puppies were seized including chihuahuas, pomeranians, spaniels, shih tzus and Yorkshire terriers. All were being kept in purpose built pods at the rear of the addresses in Manchester.

The court was told that six of the puppies were so sick they had to be put to sleep by a vet, while 65 per cent had congenital defects of some kind. 

Police also seized £3,500 in cash and a step-by-step guide to selling puppies, which said sellers would receive £50 commission on every sale they made. 

None of the defendants would reveal where any of the puppies came from. However, they admitted failing to ensure the welfare of the puppies they were selling.

It’s suspected they’d been imported from across Europe and then sold by the defendants as part of an organised business.

Smoke and mirrors within the trade

Chief inspector Ian Briggs, from our special operations unit, said: "This case is hugely significant. It shows the lengths some dealers will go to, making it look like the puppies they are selling have been bred in a homely environment.

"They produce glossy brochures, healthcheck cards and fancy looking ‘pedigree’ documents that aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

"This investigation has shown puppy dealers are becoming increasingly savvy to make their dealings look legitimate. They rent houses and put a smattering of furniture in them to make it look like a family home, from which they peddle these sick puppies.

"On some occasions that we have been told about, adult dogs would be presented under the false pretence that they were the parents of the puppies being sold.

"It is organised crime and animal suffering on an almost industrial scale."

ThePetSite News Desk

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