A Maidenhead woman has been fined £4,000 after illegally importing puppies from Slovakia.
Monika Tarasovicova, 32, of Belmont Crescent, was running an illegal pet shop from her home and was caught out when a local vet went to the council with concerns about a puppy a client had brought to their surgery.
Sarah Stevens, trading standards officer at the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, said: “The client had bought the puppy in good faith, but became concerned about its health, and suspicious about the legality of the sale, and so they returned it to Ms Tarasovicova.
“When I visited Ms Tarasovicova’s home I found both the original puppy and another, both Shiba Inus, and I made sure they were safely put into quarantine.
“Two independent vets confirmed that the puppies were much younger than the age suggested on the pet passports, meaning they were too young for their rabies vaccinations and could not therefore have been lawfully and safely brought to the UK.”
The court heard the puppies had been advertised for sale by Tarasovicova on well-known pet websites.
It also learned this was not the first time she had brought puppies to the UK from Slovakia and is thought to have imported around 20-25 puppies, but she did not keep records and so was unsure of the exact number she had sold.
Tarasovicova had also received warnings about her behaviour from Environmental Health previously, but had failed to take any remedial measures.
She pleaded guilty to two offences under the Trade in Animals and Related Products Regulations 2011, one offence under the Rabies (Importation of Dogs, Cats and other Mammals) Order 1974 and Sections 73 and 76 of the Animal Health Act 1981; and one offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in failing to be licensed to sell puppies.
Tarasovicova was convicted of bypassing rabies protection laws in court last month.
She was fined £4,000, with costs awarded of £2,500 and a £170 victim surcharge.
Ms Stevens added: “Since the start of this investigation, new legislation nicknamed ‘Lucy’s Law’ has been introduced to make it illegal for third party sellers to sell puppies and kittens, which should be bought direct from the breeder.
“Unfortunately, the law still allows for the importation of puppies from outside of England to be sold under a pet sales licence.
“Trading Standards always advises consumers to do their homework before buying a pet by researching who you’re buying from, and to never buy without seeing the puppy with its mother, ideally more than once.
“If you have any doubts or feel pressured to buy, as hard as it may be, walk away and report the seller.”
Councillor David Cannon, lead member for public protection said: “We’re very proud of the highly professional work done by Sarah during this investigation.
“Not only has she helped protect residents from the potential importation of diseases such as rabies, but she has also stood up for the welfare of defenceless animals on behalf of the whole borough.”