A couple who sold sick puppies – 10 of which later died – has been jailed for animal welfare offences.
Anthony and Lucy O’Donnell, both of Old Maidstone Road, Sidcup, Kent, appeared at Inner London Crown Court for sentencing after previously pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to dogs and for failing to meet the needs of 11 puppies.
Lucy O’Donnell also admitted one offence of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. She was jailed for two years and disqualified from keeping animals for 10 years, while husband Anthony was given a five-month jail term and also disqualified from keeping animals for 10 years.
The RSPCA became aware of the puppy dealers in December 2015 following a number of calls to the charity’s cruelty line from the public reporting the deaths of puppies they’d bought just days before.
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.”
The RSPCA mounted an undercover operation with officers posing as a couple buying a pup as a birthday present. They met Lucy O’Donnell at the side of a road and, after a few minutes of questions, handed over cash and walked away with a tiny puppy, which was subsequently rehomed with a loving family.
The RSPCA and local police executed a warrant at the address and discovered around 50 dogs and puppies at the property.
“There was no evidence of anything illegal regarding those dogs, so none were seized from the address on the day,” inspector Lamport said. However, they were able to prosecute in relation to the sick puppies the O’Donnells had sold.
Inspector Lamport added: “It’s heartbreaking to think this couple put money and profits ahead of the welfare of these poor pups and, as a result of failing to establish a disease control programme, and failing to provide appropriate treatment for illness, 10 puppies lost their lives.”