A Kent couple who repeatedly sold sick and dying puppies to members of the public were jailed for a string of fraud and animal welfare offences yesterday.
Anthony and Lucy O’Donnell were both handed significant sentences, for five months and two years respectively. They have both been barred from keeping animals for ten years.
It was a long time coming for the pair; the RSPCA were made aware of their activities in December 2015, following calls from buyers who had purchased puppies that had sadly died within days.
RSPCA inspector Carroll Lamport led an investigation into the dealers. He said, “Twelve people who had bought puppies from the same address got in touch with us to report concerns around the sellers after their dogs fell ill soon after coming home.
“Sadly, of those 12 pups, all but two died.
“We launched an investigation which involved gathering evidence from the owners and their vets, as well as sending two undercover officers along to the property to buy a puppy.
“The officers - posing as a couple buying the pup as a birthday present - met a woman, now known to be Lucy O’Donnell, at the side of the road and after a few minutes of questions, handed over cash and walked away with the tiny puppy.
“Luckily for him, he was taken straight into the care of one of our centres and, later named Branston, was rehomed and is now living a wonderful life with a loving family.”
A few weeks later, the RSPCA were able to exercise a warrant at the address with the help of local police. Around 50 dogs and puppies were discovered, but there were no grounds to seize them. Instead the RSPCA proceeded with their investigation into the dead puppies, based on the evidence from the buyers.
Inspector Lamport added, “It’s heartbreaking to think that this couple put money and profits ahead of the welfare of these poor pups."
See the video of the RSPCA's test purchase on our Facebook page.