A judge has given a pair of convicted illegal puppy sellers just three months to pay over £150,000 or risk up to 18 months in prison.
William Derrick Perriton and Rebecca Heath of Three Legged Cross appeared in court back in January following several years of investigation by Dorset Council officers regarding animal welfare offences and unlicensed breeding at an illegal puppy farm.
The pair pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, failing to take steps to ensure the needs of animals were met and carrying out a dog breeding and selling business for 14 months without a licence.
Last month, Mr. Perriton and Ms. Heath were each sentenced to 200 hours of community service – the maximum possible following a guilty plea without imposing a custodial sentence. However, the confiscation order and court costs faced by the pair were only confirmed by a judge at Bournemouth Crown Court last week (Friday 25 November).
A confiscation order is made against a convicted defendant ordering them to pay the amount of their financial benefit from crime. In this case, as the defendants were selling puppies without a licence, the income they made from selling puppies needs to be paid.
For the confiscation order, Mr. Perriton was ordered to pay £115,000 or risk 18 months in prison. Ms. Heath was ordered to pay £34,840 or risk 9 months in prison. Both will also need to pay £4,500 each in prosecution costs, with a victim surcharge of £85 each.
Dorset Council are set to receive 37% of the confiscation order funds, which amounts to £55,440. This will go into the Community and Public Protection budget to be spent for the benefit of the community on general prevention and enforcement measures. The rest is split between central government and the HM Courts & Tribunals Service.
Cllr Laura Beddow, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Customer and Community Services, said: “This is a landmark case for Dorset Council, involving an enormous amount of work from officers in our Environmental Health, Legal and Trading Standards teams. I’m sure everyone will join me in thanking all those involved for their efforts in getting this great result.
“Anyone who truly loves dogs – or animals generally – needs to understand that using an unlicensed breeder to purchase a pet is effectively supporting an illegal business, often without any consideration of the welfare and environmental needs of the animals being sold.
“There is lots of information available on the Dorset Council and RSPCA websites that we’d ask people to read carefully if they’re considering buying a dog. If we work together to grow understanding of what to look for, we can help prevent further instances of animal suffering.”
Dorset Council has updated its website facilities to allow users to check if breeders are licensed, to report unlicensed breeders, and tips on knowing what to look for and check when buying a puppy. Please visit the Buying and selling dogs in Dorset webpage for more details.