Illegal puppy breeder who made £ 32,000 during lockdown spared jail
An illegal dog breeder who sold more than £ 30,000 worth of puppies today has been released from court.
Lisa Walker made money when dog prices doubled due to high demand for new pets during the lockdown.
The mother of five has sold French Bulldogs and Cockapoos for up to £ 2,800 per puppy after advertising them online.
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But the 42-year-old did not have a license despite giving the “false impression” that she had a legitimate business.
Walker was sued by the Animal Protection Services charity, after investigating the unlicensed sale of puppies to Wirral.
However, Liverpool Crown Court has learned that there is no suggestion of cruelty on Walker’s part to the animals.
Walker, of The Caravan Park, Sherdley Road, St Helens, sold the puppies from his house without a license between August 23 and November 25 last year.
She admitted to doing business without a license and engaging in unfair business practices during an appearance before the Wirral Magistrates’ Court in March.
Due to the “significant value” of its profits, the case was referred to Liverpool Crown Court for conviction in April and consideration of a confiscation order, under the Proceeds of Crime Act ( POCA).
Carmel Wilde, prosecuting, said Walker has now filed a plea, saying she has announced five litters for sale in total.
Walker said two of them involved Cockapoos, which she sold on behalf of her then 16-year-old son because he was unable to place an ad.
The mother said she didn’t tick a box saying she was a dog breeder, didn’t try to lie or mislead anyone, and the puppies didn’t ‘had never been injured and were well cared for.
She claimed her profit was between £ 32,000 and £ 34,000 which did not include vets’ bills and general maintenance.
Ms Wilde said the prosecution had not accepted that figure, and the Crown suggested they compensated £ 54,500, before costs reduced it to around £ 48,000.
However, Ms Wilde said it was unlikely to make a “significant difference” to her sentence and the judge agreed.
Recorder Ian Unsworth, QC, said Walker would be sentenced based on a figure between £ 32,000 and £ 34,000.
Ms Wilde said Walker now has “very limited means” and the Crown has decided to drop POCA’s request.
She said: “The prosecution basically decided it wouldn’t be worth it.”
Ms Wilde said that since the lockdown was introduced in March of last year, “pet requests have of course increased dramatically and the price of puppies has doubled, which has led to breeding and the sale of puppies targeted by criminals “.
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She said Walker gave the “false impression” that she had a legitimate business.
Ms Wilde said: “She was selling and raising puppies without a license and making a profit.”
She said Walker advertised puppies for sale on the Pets4Homes website at prices ranging from £ 2,200 to £ 2,800 per dog.
Ms Wilde said: “She was not allowed to sell pets to the general public as required by animal welfare regulations.”
The prosecutor said the reason a license was required was to avoid any animal welfare issues – although there were none in the case – and to protect buyers.
The court heard that Walker had already been convicted unrelated to the year 2000, for which she had received a conditional discharge, meaning that she was “indeed of good character”.
Defense Rachel Oakdene said following previous court appearances there had been comments on social media from people who jumped to the conclusion that the case involved animal abuse.
She said: “Quite the opposite. She is a woman who loves animals and would certainly never hurt animals.”
Ms Oakdene said Walker had accepted that she was making a profit, but had not kept any records.
The lawyer said: “He is certainly not someone who has led a wealthy life because of the sale of these dogs without a license.”
Ms Oakdene said Walker currently has two dogs and asked the judge not to ban her from keeping animals.
She said Walker had to quit her job in February this year due to health issues and was now on universal credit.
Recorder Unsworth pointed out that there was information showing Walker was “extremely responsible” when it came to caring for dogs, adding that “people speak in positive terms about the way she treats dogs. animals”.
He said Walker “does not accept that animal welfare has ever been in danger and that the Crown accepts this information.”
The judge said: “This is not a case where any of these animals were injured in any way and, on the contrary, the documents reveal that she was diligent in getting the dogs to receive appropriate medical treatment by recognized veterinarians at the relevant times. “
He added: “It is clear that the accused is an animal lover and did everything she could to ensure that they were properly cared for.”
But he told Walker that regulations are in place to ensure buyers know they are buying from recognized breeders, adding: “This case remains a serious one.”
He gave her a 12-month community order, with a three-month home curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily, and banned her from selling dogs for a year.
The judge accepted his “dire financial situation” and said he would not make an order for costs.
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