An unlicensed puppy trader has been ordered to pay £100,000 for placing misleading adverts, following a prosecution prepared and presented by Telford and Wrekin Council’s legal services department.
Kenneth Purchase of Allscott Mill, Allscott, Shropshire, pleaded guilty to one offence of Engaging in a Commercial Practice which was a Misleading Action, contrary to Regulations 5 and 6 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.
The local authority said the conviction followed a “lengthy and complex” investigation into puppies being sold illegally in Telford by the council’s trading standards officers, supported and advised by its in-house lawyers.
The council said the defendant, who had previously been licensed to breed dogs but later had his license revoked, ‘bought in’ puppies to sell from a variety of sources, but placed advertisements on the Pets4Homes website, leading customers to believe that he had bred them at his home, when this was not the case.
“Purchase was aware of the legal requirement under the Pet Animals Act 1951, for him to have a Pet Shop License in order to sell puppies not bred by him, as he submitted an application for such a licence in May 2018. His application was not granted,” Telford & Wrekin said.
According to the council, during a six month period in 2018, at least 95 dogs were sold by the defendant as a result of his misleading advertisements and he made at least £50,000 as a result of his criminal conduct.
A number of the puppies that he advertised and sold were so unwell that they had to be euthanised shortly after the consumer had purchased them.
Sentencing the defendant on 7th January 2022 Judge Recorder Hawks sitting at Shrewsbury Crown Court is reported to have told Purchase “you deserve to go to prison” but due to his age (68) and poor health, he instead imposed a financial penalty as punishment for the offence.
Purchase was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay a contribution towards prosecution costs of £25,000. The judge also made a confiscation order of £50,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Compensation from the confiscation sum will be paid to victims who purchased dogs from the defendant, having been misled by the advertisements, the council said.
The criminal proceedings which commenced in 2019, were delayed and prolonged by the COVID 19 pandemic in addition to the defendant maintaining his not guilty plea until the first day of trial.
Telford & Wrekin’s in house legal department worked with trading standards and licensing officers to bring the case.
A couple who illegally bred dogs were recently ordered to pay more than £450,000 following a successful prosecution by Vale of Glamorgan Council.