A WOMAN has been fined after an undercover investigation discovered she was selling puppies illegally from her Kidderminster home.
Violet Smith, of Wilton Avenue, appeared at Dudley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, April 14, charged with offences under the Animal Welfare Regulations Act and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
The case was brought by Animal Protection Services, a registered charity that investigates and prosecutes organised animal cruelty.
The charity pursued an undercover investigation where investigators visited Smith’s address to view the puppies.
Investigators were not allowed into the house and viewed the puppies on the doorstep. The covert test purchase was recorded on film and formed the prosecution evidence leading to the conviction.
The court heard how Smith had advertised a business of selling dogs and therefore needed a licence to breed and sell dogs, which she did not have.
Animal Protection Services said there were no identified concerns around the welfare of the animals in Smith's care, but said the undermining of the statutory licensing regime is "serious" and impacts the wider community, as well as being necessary for safeguarding animals.
In mitigation, Smith told the court that she was on Universal Credit and that she “cannot remember how many litters she had in 2019”.
District Judge Wilkinson said that Smith had defrauded the local authority, the taxpayer and the benefits office.
Smith was ordered to pay a fine of £2,500 and a contribution to investigation costs of £3,221.
She was also given a disqualification from dealing in dogs and cats for three years.
A spokesperson for Animal Protection Services said: “We are pleased with the outcome of the sentencing at court today.
"It is a testament to the brave work of our covert intelligence-led teams that risk their own safety to bring criminals to justice.
"It is a great day for animal welfare, and we hope that the significant fine will serve as a warning to other criminals who are looking to take advantage of animals for financial profit."