Four people are preparing to be sentenced for conspiracy to commit fraud after the RSPCA received dozens of calls from members of the public about being sold sick and dying puppies.
Basildon Crown Court heard a subsequent undercover RSPCA investigation found two houses in Essex were being used as “front addresses” to sell the dogs, after they had been transported there from a travellers’ site in Aveley.
When the RSPCA and police executed a warrant at the site, officers found 76 dogs and puppies.
All of the dogs – a mix of poodles, cocker spaniels, cavachons, cockerpoos and golden doodles – were seized by police and placed into the RSPCA’s care.
Teresa Wade, 57, of Ship Lane, Aveley, Essex; Victoria Montgomery, 54, of Melford Ave, Barking, London; her daughter Roxanne Montgomery, 33, of Grafton Road, Dagenham, London; and her partner Tony Hammond, 34, of Brunswick Court, Upminster all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by making false representations as to the condition of the puppies being sold, intending to make a gain.
Lots of complaints
RSPCA inspector Carroll Lamport, who led the investigation, said: “We received lots of complaints from members of the public who had bought puppies that were really poorly.
“Following some investigations, we found out this network of puppy breeders and dealers were using front addresses to sell the dogs from, making out that they’d come from loving, family homes.
“The reality was far from that. These dogs were being bred and kept at a travellers’ site in Aveley, until it came time to advertise them online and sell them to unsuspecting members of the public when they were moved to these staged home environments.
“More and more people are using this tactic to trick the public and avoid raising any suspicions, and it’s something we are seeing increasingly in these cases.
“Some of the dogs, which weren’t being bred at the site, were being brought in from elsewhere. Many were too young and some came from unknown circumstances, including a number believed to be from Welsh puppy farms.”
- Sentencing will take place on 8 December, with a hearing at a later date relating to animal welfare offences.