02:30PM, Wednesday 23 May 2018
A crooked vet from Iver Heath who helped a criminal ring sell sick and dying puppies has avoided jail.
A gang of fraudsters who made an estimated £2.5m from its operation were sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on Tuesday, May 22 following a three year RSPCA investigation.
The animal welfare charity launched ‘Operation Adder’ following complaints from several of people who had bought puppies which had fallen ill and in some cases died.
Daniel Doherty, 49, of Wood Lane, Iver Heath, operated two vet surgeries in Uxbridge, West London, where he falsified vaccination cards to help the gang sell the puppies.
Evidence showed that 4,689 puppies were taken to MyVet 24/7 by the gang between 23 March 2011 and 10 May 2017, with Doherty pocketing at least £75,000.
Having been found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by a jury, following a four week trial earlier this year, he was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for one year.
The corrupt vet was also ordered to complete 80 hours unpaid work and pay an £140 victim surcharge.
The RSPCA estimates the dealers were selling puppies for an average of £500 each — making at least £2,548,500 by selling 5,097 puppies over five years — although investigators suspect there were many more.
The gang generally dealt fashionable breeds such as Yorkshire terriers, cavapoos and labradoodles, which were illegally imported from Southern Ireland before being transported to the defendants’ homes and advertised online.
When visiting, buyers were usually met by a man, children and a women to give the impression of a ‘family home’ that the puppies were claimed to have belonged to.
The gang were most active between 2014 and 2016 — before being raided by police and RSPCA investigators.
Forensic examinations of mobile phones used to sell the puppies show they were making around £800,000 a year during this period.
During raids on four addresses in May 2016, in Hayes, West London, officers found 46 dogs and puppies kept in plastic sheets, outbuildings and garages, or running loose in gardens and yards.
Four dead Yorkshire terrier puppies thought to be from the same litter were found wrapped in black bin bags, scattered around the garden at one property.
Despite treatment, four puppies later died from parvovirus. Three pregnant bitches who were seized went on to have 16 puppies, although one was stillborn.
Nine dogs were later taken into RSPCA care from an address in Upper Basildon, Reading, in February, 2017.
Six of the gang members, all from Hayes, were sentenced on the same day, having pleaded guilty to fraud and animal welfare sentences.
Simon O’Donnell, 30, of Bradenham Road, Thomas Stokes, 26, of Bedwell Gardens were both jailed for three years, banned from keeping dogs for life and each ordered to pay a £170 victim surcharge.
RSPCA inspector Kirsty Withnall said: “This was a complicated and multi-faceted, high volume conspiracy whereby the gang has misrepresented commercial, puppy-farmed dogs imported from abroad as family-bred pets to con members of the public out of money.”
She added: “Buyers have had to cover expensive veterinary bills or, tragically, lost their pet as a result of poor breeding, inappropriate transport and inadequate care.”
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