An illegal dog breeder who made more than £ 30,000 selling puppies has been released in court.
Lisa Walker sold French Bulldogs and Cockapoos for up to £ 2,800 per puppy after promoting them online during the lockdown when the price of dogs doubled due to high demand for new pets.
The mother of five, however, was not licensed and gave the “false impression” that she had a legitimate business, reports the Liverpool Echo.
While the 42-year-old was being prosecuted by the Animal Protection Services charity, after investigating the unlicensed sale of puppies in Wirral, Liverpool Crown Court heard that Walker made no evidence of animal cruelty.
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Walker of The Caravan Park, Sherdley Road, St. Helens, sold the pups from their home without a license between August 23 and November 25 last year.
In a March appearance before the Wirral Magistrates’ Court, she admitted that she was doing an unlicensed job and engaging in unfair business practices.
Because of the “substantial value” of their winnings, the case was referred to the Liverpool Crown Court in April for conviction and review of a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
Carmel Wilde, prosecutor, said Walker has now filed a plea, stating that she has put a total of five litters for sale.
Walker said two of them involved cockapoos, which she sold on behalf of her then 16-year-old son because he couldn’t advertise.
(Image: Liverpool Echo)
The mother said she didn’t check a box, that she was a dog breeder, didn’t try to lie or mislead anyone, and the pups were never injured and were well looked after.
She claimed the profit she made was between £ 32,000 and £ 34,000, excluding vets’ bills and general maintenance.
Ms. Wilde said prosecutors did not accept that figure and the Crown suggested it come to £ 54,500 before costs reduced that to around £ 48,000.
However, Ms. Wilde said her verdict was unlikely to make a “material difference” and the judge agreed.
Recorder Ian Unsworth, QC, said Walker would be sentenced based on the figure between £ 32,000 and £ 34,000.
Ms. Wilde said Walker was now “very limited” and the Crown had decided to withdraw its application for a POCA.
She said, “The prosecution essentially decided it wasn’t going to be worth it.”
Manchester’s courts are among the busiest in the country, with a large number of cases heard each week.
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Ms. Wilde said since the lockdown in March last year, “the demand for pets has of course increased significantly and the price of puppies has doubled, which has resulted in the breeding and sale of puppies being targeted by criminals.”
She said Walker gave the “wrong impression” that she had a legitimate business.
Ms. Wilde said, “She sold and bred puppies without a license and made a profit.”
She said Walker had puppies for sale on the Pets4Homes website at prices between £ 2,200 and £ 2,800 per dog.
Ms. Wilde said, “She was not licensed to sell pets to the general public as animal welfare regulations require.”
The prosecutor said the reason a license was needed was to avoid animal welfare issues – although there weren’t any in the case – and to protect buyers.
The court heard that Walker had a previous independent conviction in 2000 for which she received a parole, meaning that she was “effectively of good character”.
(Image: Liverpool Echo)
Defense attorney Rachel Oakdene said there had been comments on social media following earlier court hearings from people who concluded the case was animal abuse.
She said, “It’s quite the opposite. She is a lady who loves animals and would certainly never harm animals.”
Ms. Oakdene said Walker accepted that she made a profit but kept no records.
The attorney said, “She is certainly not a person who led an affluent lifestyle by selling these unlicensed dogs.”
Ms. Oakdene said Walker currently has two dogs and asked the judge not to prohibit her from keeping animals.
She said Walker had to quit her job in February this year for health reasons and is now on universal credit.
Recorder Unsworth stressed that there was information showing that Walker was “extremely responsible” when it came to caring for dogs, adding that “people speak positively about how she treats animals”.
He said Walker “does not accept that animal welfare has ever been compromised, and indeed the Crown does accept that information”.
The judge said: “This is not a case in which any of these animals has been harmed in any way and, on the contrary, the papers show that she has taken great care to ensure that the dogs were given appropriate medical treatment by recognized veterinarians at relevant times . “
He added, “It is clear that the defendant is an animal lover and has done everything in her power to ensure they were properly cared for.”
However, he told Walker that there were regulations in place to ensure buyers know they are buying from recognized breeders, adding, “This case remains a serious one.”
On Monday (July 19), he gave her a 12-month joint decree with a three-month curfew every day from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and banned her from trading dogs for a year.
The judge accepted her “financial hardship” and said he would not make a decision on costs.
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