Members of an organised gang, who are estimated to have made more than £8,000 a week selling sick, diseased and dying puppies, have been jailed after one of the RSPCA’s biggest investigations into the puppy trade.
One puppy sold, called Crumpet (right), had to be put on a drip and fed through a tube, before he died.
Paula Wood, James Brady, Louise Colwell, Kenneth Colwell, Thomas Greally and Stacey Greally – all from the Greater Manchester area – admitted a string of animal welfare offences linked to organised crime involving the sale of sick puppies.
They were sentenced on August 3, 2015 at Oldham Magistrates’ Court.
Thomas Greally and Kenneth Colwell were sentenced to 20 weeks in custody, while Brady was given 10 week’s custody.
The district judge said the number of puppies Greally admitted to selling for between £550 to £650 meant some weeks he would have made more than £8,000.
Wood – who the district judge said had shown no remorse – was given a 12-week custodial sentence, which was suspended for 12 months. She must carry out 250 hours unpaid work during a 12-month community order and also pay £1,000 costs.
Louise Colwell and Stacey Greally – formerly McEwan – was sentenced to 20 week’s custody, which will be suspended for 12 months. They must also carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and pay £2,000 costs.
All six defendants were banned from keeping dogs for the rest of their lives.
The case against the six defendants was part of a major investigation known as Operation Pagan, which has been led by the RSPCA’s special operations unit.
None of the defendants would reveal where any of the puppies came from. However, they admitted failing to ensure the welfare of the puppies they were selling after numerous witnesses contacted the RSPCA after buying sick puppies from defendants who appeared before the court. It is suspected they had been imported from across Europe and then sold as part of an organised business.
Chief inspector Ian Briggs of the RSPCA’s special operations unit said: “This case is hugely significant. It shows the lengths some dealers will go to, making it look like the puppies they are selling have been bred in a homely environment.
“They produce glossy brochures, health check cards and fancy-looking ‘pedigree’ documents that aren’t worth the paper they are written on. This investigation has shown puppy dealers are becoming increasingly savvy to make their dealings look legitimate. They rent houses and put a smattering of furniture in them to make it look like a family home, from which they peddle these sick puppies.
“On some occasions we have been told about, adult dogs would be presented under the false pretense they were the parents of the puppies being sold.
“It is organised crime and animal suffering on an almost industrial scale.”