Profits seized from illegal dog breeding operation

An  illegal  dog  breeder  has  been  forced  to  pay  back  the  profit  she  made  from  selling litters  of  puppies   from  her  home,  after  successful  Proceeds  of  Crime  Act proceedings by  Rhondda  Cynon  Taf  Council.

Cardiff  Crown  Court  has  determined  that  Susan  Thomas,  formerly  of  Heol  y  Bryn, Rhydyfelin,  must   forfeit  the  £4,000  profit  Licensing  Officers  have  proved  she  made from  selling  puppies  when  she  had   no  legal  license  to  do  so.

She  has  also  been  ordered  to  pay  a  further  £7,500  towards  the  prosecution  costs and has  just  three   months  to  pay  back  the  total  amount. Following  her  conviction  of illegal  breeding  and  animal   welfare  offences  last  year,  she  was  banned  from breeding  dogs  for  five  years.

The  successful  result  in  court  marks  the  end  of  a  year  of  legal  action  against  Susan Thomas,  58,  by   Rhondda  Cynon  Taf  Council’s  Licensing  Officers. It  sends  a  clear message  that  the  authority  does  have  access  to  far-­‐reaching  and  robust  legislation to   deal  with  those  who  make  a  profit  from  criminal  activity.

The  case  against  Thomas,  58,  began  in  2013  when  Council  Licensing  Officers  were contacted  by  the   Italian  Greyhound  Rescue  Charity,  passing  on  the  concerns  of  a man  who  had  contacted  them  after   visiting  Thomas’  home  with  a  view  to  buying  a puppy  she  had  offered  for  sale  online.

He  was  appalled  at  the  dirty  and  smelly  conditions  in  which  the  puppies  were  kept and  also   concerned  about  the  number  of  litters  of  puppies  and  dogs  in  the house. As  soon  as  Thomas’  name  was  mentioned  by  the  charity,  officers  were  aware of  her  as  it  had  been  just  over  18  months  since  they  had  first  prosecuted  her  in relation  to  illegal  breeding  and  animal   welfare  offences.

In  2012,  she  was  convicted  at  Pontypridd  Magistrates’  Court  of  failing  to  hold  the legal,  local   authority  license  that  is  needed  by  anyone  who  produces  more  than  four litters  of  puppies  a  year,  an   offence  under  the  1973  Breeding  of  Dogs  Act.

She  was  also  convicted  of  an  offence  under  the  2006  Animal  Welfare  Act  for  failing to  allow  the  dogs   in  her  care  to  exhibit  their  natural  canine  behaviour,  as  they were kept  for  hours  at  a  time  in  small   cages  stacked  in  her  kitchen,  instead  of  being walked  and  playing  in  the  garden.

The  following  year  online  adverts  indicated  she  was  continuing  to  breed  puppies illegally,  so  officers   organised  a  search  of  her  home,  in  the  presence  of  a  vet  and police  officers.

They  entered  the  property  to  discover  26  dogs  –  Chihuahuas,  Italian  Greyhounds  – and  paperwork,   photos  and  mating  diaries  that  indicated  at  least  eight  litters  of puppies  had  been  bred  illegally  since   the  court  case.

As  a  result  of  the  search,  Thomas  was  charged  with:

  • Keeping  a  breeding  establishment  without  a  license  from  the  council  –  a  breach  of  the  1973   Breeding  of  Dogs  Act.
  • Failing  to  ensure  the  needs  of  her  dogs  were  met  –  a  breach  of  the  2006  Animal  Welfare  Act
  • Presenting  herself  as  a  “member”  of  online  selling  sites  and  not  a  “breeder”
  • AND,   engaging  in  a   misleading  commercial  practice  contrary  to  the  Consumer  Protection  from  Unfair  Trading   Regulations  Act  and  the  Fraud  Act.

She  admitted  the  offences  and  was  placed  on  a  12  month  supervision  order  and banned  from   breeding  dogs  for  five  years.

Following  the  successful  court  case,  the  Proceeds  of  Crime  investigations  then began, which  involved   months  of  work  to  match  dated  picture  of  puppies  and  adverts placed  on  a  variety  of  online  selling   sites  to  prove  the  profit  that  had  been  made and  calculate  the  profit  made  from  the  prices  they  were   sold  at  –  some  as  high  as £750  per  puppy.

The  £4,000  confiscation  order  relates  to  the  calculated  profit  she  made  during  the period  of  the   offending  and  the  costs  relate  to  the  cost  of  bringing  Proceeds  of Crime  action  against  her.

Paul  Mee,  Rhondda  Cynon  Taf  Council’s  Director  of  Public  Health  and  Protection, said:  “This  is   something  of  a  landmark  case  for  us  and  shows  the  legislation  we have  access  to  –  and  can  use   effectively  –  to  deal  with  those  who  make  a  profit from  criminal  activity.

“This  was  a  complicated  case  involving  a  lot  of  puppies  and  a  lot  of  prices  and  officers  involved  should  be  commended  for  the  professionalism  and  tenacity  they  have  shown  to  recover  the  profit  of   criminal  activity.

“Importantly,  this  case  is  not  just  about  making  money  from  crime.  Breeders  like  Susan  Thomas  have   a  legal  responsibility  to  ensure  they  are  licensed  so  the  necessary  and  regular  checks  can  be  made  on   their  breeding  operation  and  ensure  the  welfare  of  the  animals.

“We  thank  the  Italian  Rescue  Greyhound  Charity  for  their  support  in  this  case.”

[This is the official press release from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council]

To read more about this case, please click here.