Peterborough French Bulldog seller fined after importing and illegally selling pets online
A Peterborough man who made £15,000 importing and illegally selling dogs online has been ordered to pay back just £1 after a court heard he has no assets.
Peter Manher (48), of Grange Road, Peterborough, imported nearly 50 French and English Bulldogs from Hungary, before advertising them for sale on websites including Gumtree and Pets4Homes for sale for up to £1,000.
But following a complaint regarding the sale of misdescribed puppies, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards launched an investigation into Manher’s trading practices.
The team worked in partnership with the Animal Plant Health Agency officers (APHA) to identify the number of animals imported by Manher, when they were imported and the routes used to bring them into the UK.
The investigation revealed he did not have a licence to sell the dogs, and did not reveal to potential customers that the animals had been imported.
Yesterday he appeared at Peterborough Crown Court, where he was fined £500 and ordered to pay £1,000 towards prosecution costs. The court also imposed a £15,000 confiscation order - but Manher was told to pay just £1 after the court heard he had no assets. Should he ever be in the position to pay the £15,000, he will be ordered to stump up the sum. He has been given 12 months to pay the other £1,500.
Judge Matthew Lowe, sentencing, said: “Over the period October 2017 to July of this year, you imported from Hungary 48 French and English bulldogs into this country. You did so in order to sell them. When you advertise those dogs for sale, you did not declare that they were non-UK bred. That places you in default of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
“Because you were selling dogs without the requisite pet shop licence, you committed the Animal Welfare Act offence. These dogs were being sold for significant amounts of money. Hundreds and hundreds of pounds. I note in passing the agreed benefit figure of £15,000 for the purpose of confiscation proceedings.
“You were not carrying out this business in ignorance of the law. You had had 2 shots across your bow in 2016 and more particularly in 2017. In 2017, you were advised both verbally and in writing about the requirements to have a pet shop licence. Despite that warning, you continued to behave in the way you did.”
The dogs seized by the trading standards team have now been re-homed.
Peter Gell, head of regulatory services at Peterborough City Council, said: “We welcome this sentence as it recognises the cruel, persistent nature of Manher’s offending.
“The practice of illegally importing animals not only increases the risk of spreading disease to the UK, but it also raises serious welfare concerns for the animals, and in many instances results in additional (quarantine) costs for the unsuspecting purchase
A Peterborough City Council spokesman urged people to take extra care when buying pets, and issued advice to potential buyers.
1. Get as much information as possible about where the puppy has come from.
2. Be suspicious if the seller cannot show you the puppy with its mother and litter mates. View the puppy where it was bred.
3. If the puppy has been vaccinated, ask to see all the documentation. This must clearly state the veterinary practice where the puppy injections were given.
4. If the seller informs you that the puppy has been brought in from another country, treat it with suspicion (documents may be forged) - it must have a pet passport with a valid rabies vaccination recorded in it. The date of the import must be at least 21 days after the date of the rabies vaccination. The puppy must also be a minimum of 15 weeks of age.
5. Never agree to have the puppy delivered to your home address or meet the seller in a carpark for collection.
Anyone who has concerns about a puppy they have purchased should contact their vet in the first instance.
If you would like to contact someone about suspected illegal puppy trading please call Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06 who will pass the details to the relevant local authority.
For further advice please visit www.gov.uk/buying-a-cat-or-dog