Edmonds Marshall McMahon recently secured a conviction on behalf of Animal Protection Services (APS) following a successful private prosecution. APS is a registered charity that investigates and prosecutes organised animal cruelty. APS has decided to pursue private prosecutions as unlicensed puppy breeding and animal welfare offences increase in frequency, particularly due to the recent huge demand for puppies caused by the coronavirus pandemic and people spending more time at home.
Violet Smith of Kidderminster, Worcestershire was covertly recorded by investigators whilst attempting to sell puppies without a licence. As a result, she was charged with the following offences: (i) Carrying on a licensable activity without a licence granted by the local authority, contrary to section 13(6) Animal Welfare Act 2006; and (ii) Engaging in commercial practices which are in all circumstances considered unfair, contrary to section 12 of The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
On 14 April 2021, Ms Smith appeared at Dudley Magistrates’ Court in relation to these offences. During the hearing, District Judge Wilkinson commented that Ms Smith had defrauded the taxpayer, as it came to light that she had been claiming Universal Credit whilst breeding and selling puppies for profit.
Ms Smith pleaded guilty to both charges and was sentenced as follows:
- A £2,500 fine;
- A £190 statutory surcharge;
- A contribution towards APS’s investigation costs; and
- Disqualification from dealing in dogs or cats for a period of three years.