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.

Illegal Italian Greyhound breeder prosecuted & banned for life by The Kennel Club

**UPDATE** 29th March 2016 **

Following this prosecution (please read below for full details) at the end of 2015, The Kennel Club’s Disciplinary Sub-Committee ruled that Susan Thomas would be banned for life from the KC. The KC has imposed the following disqualifications:

  • From exhibiting at, taking part in, attending and/or having any connection with any event licensed by the club;
  • From being or becoming a member of any canine club or society registered with or affiliated to the KC;
  • From acting as an officer or serving on the committee of any canine society;
  • From taking part in the management of any event licensed by the club;
  • From judging at any KC-licensed event;
  • From registering any or all dogs and/or progeny of such dogs who are owned and/or registered by her, whether or not jointly owned and/or whether or not owned and/or registered in the name of a nominee.

Further details can be found here.


A Rhydyfelin woman who continued to run an illegal, unscrupulous dog breeding business from her home, despite a previous prosecution, has been prosecuted again by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

Susan Thomas, 57, is now banned from breeding dogs for five years and has been served an order to reduce the number of dogs she keeps. She must also complete a 12-month supervision order and investigations into her “business” finances, an estimated £10,500, continue.

DOC4[1]

Thomas faced Cardiff Crown Court on November 16 2015 after pleading guilty to the below four offences at an earlier hearing at the same court:

1. Keeping a breeding establishment without a license from the Council, contrary to the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973

2. Failing to ensure the needs of the dogs were met, an offence under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act

3. Engaging in a misleading commercial practice, contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, namely making false statements about her name and address.

4. Contravening the same regulations by placing adverts and falsely implying she was not acting as a breeder.

The charges follow a second investigation into Thomas, of Heol Y Bryn, by RCT’s Licensing team in December 2013. Officers were contacted by the Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity, which reported concerns regarding Thomas’ breeding, advertising and sale of puppies and the conditions dogs were kept in.

DOC6[5]

The rescue had been contacted by a man from Bristol who had travelled to Rhydyfelin to view Italian Greyhound puppies being offered for sale online by Thomas, with a view to buying one.

He found three separate litters of puppies in the house and was concerned by the overwhelming smell of urine and mess in the house and the impact it was having on the dogs’ welfare, so he contacted the rescue which, in turn, contacted RCT Council.

At the time of this report, it had been 18 months since Thomas had faced Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court the first time, in May 2012, where she was convicted of failing to register with the Council, a legal requirement for anyone producing four or more litters a year, and for failing to allow the dogs in her care to exhibit their normal behaviour patterns, an offence under the Animal Welfare Act, by keeping them locked in cages for hours at a time. She was fined and given a 12-month conditional discharge on this occasion.

Despite this, she continued to breed and failed to register with the Council. Evidence seized by officers from Heol y Bryn in January 2014, following the latest report, uncovered paperwork, calendars, photos and online adverts proving she had produced at least five litters of puppies since her last court appearance.

One of the dogs found in the house during the search warrant was heavily pregnant, bringing the total number of litters to six, and dated photographs found on her computer suggested at least two more litters were born, but whose births were not registered to avoid raising concerns about overbreeding.

DOC3[3]

Mating records showed one dog had puppies in May 2014 and was mated again that September. The Breeding and Sale of Dogs Welfare Act 1999, which would have been applicable to Thomas had she met her legal requirement to register, states a bitch cannot be bred again for a minimum of 12 months after she has had a litter. Had Thomas been licensed, this would have been an offence.

Further investigation of the online adverts Thomas was placing to sell the puppies showed she was selling them as Phillip Williams from a Cardiff address. No one of this name or address exists. Thomas was selling the puppies under false details and the online profile she was using stated she was a “member” not a “breeder”. The false name and address was deemed to be an offence under the Fraud Act and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations. The fact she didn’t present herself as a breeder was also deemed an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

All of the information was seized during a search warrant which was executed at Heol Y Bryn by Trading Standards officers, accompanied by vet Karen Davies of the Maesglas Veterinary Group.

When officers arrived they were told there were 12 dogs in the property but their search actually uncovered 26 – three Chihuahuas, 16 adult Italian Greyhounds and seven Italian Greyhound puppies. There were pens, cages and baskets in the kitchen and the back garden.

DOC2[4]

There was dogs’ mess on the floor, the carpet was wet and littered with dirty puppy pads and there was an overwhelming smell of urine.

Vet Karen Davies completed a report on the dogs’ welfare and concluded they were at risk of sores because of the urine-soaked floor and distress was caused to older dogs due to the number of younger dogs in close proximity. The dogs were also at risk of injuring themselves on the litter they were surrounded by. These conditions were deemed to be an offence under the Animal Welfare Act.

Thomas admitted the offences and was placed on a 12-month supervision order and banned from breeding dogs for five years. She has also been placed on a limitation order, which also runs for five years, to reduce the number of dogs she has to four. This means as the dogs she has in her home move on or pass away, she cannot replace them and can only have a maximum of four dogs.

Licensing officers were unable to interview Thomas in any detail about her operation due to the fact she was not well enough to be interviewed.
However, Thomas told the court that she loved her dogs and cared for them, but admitted she may have overstretched herself with the sheer number of animals she had in her home.

She also told the court she had been suffering from poor health and was addressing this, but it had left her overwhelmed by the situation and perhaps not able to deal with it as she should.

DOC[1]

Paul Mee, Service Director for Public Health and Protection, said: “The legal requirement for breeders to have a license from the Council is there for good reason. It is so the integrity of the business can be monitored and the welfare of the animals involved maintained.

“Susan Thomas is well aware of this legal requirement as she found herself in front of a court in 2012 for exactly the same reason. Yet she continued to operate as a breeder without securing the license she knew she had to have.

“As a result of this, the business activities taking place at her home were not monitored or regulated, which resulted in over-breeding, poor conditions for the animals and welfare.

“It also meant the public were placed at risk as they were being misled about the nature of the business they were buying a puppy from and the name and address of the person making the sale was false, which meant any future issues or recourse would have been impossible.”

Helen Lister, Trustee and Chairman of the Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity, said: “The Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity will always take seriously any information passed to them regarding the welfare of Italian Greyhounds. It is pleased that these longstanding welfare issues of a particularly sensitive breed have come to an end. It also sends out a signal to any other breeders who think they can ‘puppy farm’ Italian Greyhounds.”

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

In October 2016 the courts fined Susan Thomas a total of £7,560.00, made up of £4,000 from her proceeds of crime (Illegally breeding Italian Greyhounds)  Legal Fees of £7,500 and £60 Victim surcharge. Read more here.

 

 

The Italian Greyhound Cash Cow

With the news that Consumer Direct reported a concerning 40% increase in the number of complaints they have received related to the purchase of pets, largely dogs between 2006 and 2008, and 5,000 complaints in 2008 we are not surprised. Live puppies and dogs whether bought from a person or trading establishment are covered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979.

The reason? The advent of the internet in the late 1990’s, prior to this breeders advertised their IG puppies in certain publications and these breeders were generally known and discouraged by responsible IG breeders. Sadly for the poor IGs it is now so easy for these breeders to sit in the comfort of their own home and advertise puppies or stud dogs on the internet, whilst some of the poor dogs being used to breed from are being kept outside, or confined to wire cages with no life other than producing puppies.

The Internet provides a false front, a flowery advert, directly aimed at making the IG into a ‘must have breed’ – miniature whippets, as delicate to look at as a piece of porcelain, if that is what you want, have the porcelain on your mantelpiece, all you will need to do is dust it occasionally, without the true commitment of a life with an IG.

On average 18 new adverts per week appear on the internet, common sites such as Epupz, Preloved, Classified Ads and many others, featuring pictures of barely dry puppies or only a few weeks old, being held up legs a straddle, fearful tiny eyes. Really loved puppies look happy and relaxed, but not these poor little mites and there are so many of them.

It doesn’t stop at puppies, adults who don’t have a useful purpose are advertised too, without breeding restrictions, inciting other unscrupulous people to buy an IG and use them for their own gain, with no thought as to their welfare. Even sick dogs with a fractured limb have been sold, better to reduce the price and let someone else have the problem and the vets bills, and even worse with inherited life threatening diseases, where an obviously ill puppy was advertised on the internet three times over and eventually the last advertiser said she was depressed, realising that this was the third time this 9 month old puppy was up for sale, we were able to do something about it and save her life, but we can’t save them all.

Of course the real reason for all the IG’s being bred is nothing other than money, puppies are being sold regularly for anything up to £2,000, money does not ensure a permanent loving home for the IG.

The Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity reject as unsuitable many homes at the initial enquiry stage and a number each year fail the essential home check for suitability for an IG. Before much longer our delightful breed is going to become the must have accessory which past breeders and owners have always fought so hard to ensure this doesn’t happen with all the awful consequences that ensue.

We would like to see an amendment to the animal Welfare act to ban the advertising of dogs on the internet; you too can help by spreading the word to never consider buying an Italian Greyhound advertised on the internet and by informing admirers of an Italian Greyhound’s true needs and what they are like to live with.

Of course for the breed to survive we will always need dedicated breeders who really care about the offspring they produce and always keep in touch with their new owners to give any help and advice, not people who breed teens of puppies, how can anyone possibly keep track of 90+ puppies and be able to help if there is a problem if their only concern is producing yet more for money?

Italian Greyhound Breeder Prosecuted Under the Animal Welfare Act

We are rehoming more and more Italian Greyhounds every year. This increase in the number of Italian Greyhounds that need our support is largely due to the increase in the number of home breeders and commercial breeders who take a less than responsible approach to homing their Italian Greyhound puppies.

Sadly we see puppies and adult Italian Greyhounds coming from the same ‘breeders’ over and over again – their lack of consideration for the home that the Italian Greyhound is being sold into results in the Italian Greyhound Rescue Charity picking up the pieces – and that is only if the dog gets lucky.

One breeder who has bred large numbers of Italian Greyhounds for sale is Susan Thomas, Francole Italian Greyhounds, based in Heol y Bryn, South Wales. Susan Thomas and her husband were successfully prosecuted by their Local Authority under the Animal Welfare Act in 2012. Read the official statement from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

The Thomas’ admitted to breeding 89 puppies in just three years. On the first day that the authorities visited their house there were 38 dogs kept on the premises, including 10 puppies. There were 12 dog crates in the kitchen area, which usually contained 2 dogs, that were crated over night and also confined throughout the day.  Conditions were found to be unhygienic and the number of dogs kept in the crates and the time within which they were contained was deemed unacceptable by the court.

It has been reported to us that Susan Thomas is still actively breeding dogs for sale and advertising them on the internet.

Please do your research if you are buying an Italian Greyhound and make sure that you are not rewarding unscrupulous breeders and puppy farmers for abusing these beautiful dogs.