London, 1st April - Yesterday (31 March) an unlicensed breeder who sold seriously ill puppies to unsuspecting families was sentenced to eight weeks in custody, starting immediately, and a disqualification for keeping animals for a decade. Global animal welfare organisation, FOUR PAWS and partners Animal Protection Services, are celebrating this recent outcome for a trade that is widely known as being low risk for high return.
The prosecution and investigation team at Animal Protection Services first became aware of the defendant Mr John Lawrence of Grange Meadow Court, Liverpool, when two cases were brought to them of German Shepherd puppies dying days after being purchased. Sadly both puppies, named Warrick and Storm by the Ward and Maule families respectively, were confirmed to have canine parvovirus, a highly contagious virus that spreads amongst dogs.
Whilst Lucy’s Law was introduced in England last April operators like Mr Lawrence are still finding way to sell puppies for profit. Says James Parry, Solicitor of Parry and Welch Solicitors: “The Judge said that deterrent sentencing was necessary for this type of offence. He was correct. This sentence demonstrates to those who indulge in peddling such misery that they will be caught and will be punished.”
It is diabolical that people are treating animals as commodities. Sadly we have seen a marked increase in the number of puppies for sale during the repeated lockdowns and it seems that this is yet another example where the health of the animal is of little importance. It will have been evident that the dogs were not well, yet they were still sold to excited new families. This case exemplifies why greater protection is needed for puppies sold online, and to protect the families from untold suffering.”
Emily Wilson, FOUR PAWS UK Head of Campaigns
Ruling to become the expected, not the unexpected
Recent reports from the PFMA estimate that 59% of households have pets, with dogs accounting for 33%. Sadly many of these dogs may be acquired through unlicensed breeders. This surge has been particularly evident in the last 10 days as Animal Protection Services has taken 42 cases to courts across the country. In addition to his immediate sentencing, reimbursement and compensation to the plaintiffs totalling £11,500, Mr Lawrence was also disqualified from keeping animals for 10 years. However little is known as to how this will be enforced if he is to return to selling animals online.
FOUR PAWS has campaigned on the illegal puppy trade for many years and has created a Model Solution focusing on the introduction of full traceability of all breeders and sellers to allow greater transparency for potential buyers. Wilson continues: “Successful implementation of the Model Solution would render illegal puppy dealers unable to sell via their main channel to market, online classified sites. Anonymity remains a central problem of the illegal puppy trade and this increased transparency would allow buyers greater peace of mind that they are acquiring a healthy dog from a reputable source.”
Help is at hand
From Tuesday 6th April anyone who believes they have been the victim of an unlicensed breeder or illegal puppy trader can report it to FOUR PAWS. The service will offer support to those that have suffered at the hands of callous breeders and traders. Wilson concludes: “We believe Stop Puppy Traders will seek justice for victims of this low risk, high reward trade and demonstrate that such abuses cannot continue.”
If you have been affected by an unlicensed breeder or an illegally imported puppy please fill out the form on Stop Puppy Traders and help FOUR PAWS and Animal Protection Services to clamp down on the trade. www.four-paws.org.uk