An illegal dog breeder who made more than £30,000 selling puppies during lockdown was spared jail.Lisa Walker made thousands of pounds when prices for dogs doubled due to the high demand for new pets during lockdown.The mum-of-five sold French bulldogs and Cockapoos for up to £2,800 a puppy after advertising them online.But the 42-year-old didn't have a licence but she gave the "false impression" she had a legitimate business.
Walker was prosecuted by the charity Animal Protection Services, after it investigated the unlicensed sale of puppies in Wirral.However, Liverpool Crown Court heard there was no suggestion whatsoever of any cruelty by Walker towards any animals.
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Walker, of The Caravan Park, Sherdley Road, St Helens, sold the puppies from her home without a licence between August 23 and November 25 last year.She admitted carrying out an activity without a licence and engaging in unfair commercial practice in an appearance at Wirral Magistrates' Court in March.Because of the "significant value" of her profits, the case was committed to Liverpool Crown Court for sentence in April and consideration of a confiscation order, under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
Walker said she hadn't ticked a box saying she was a dog breeder, didn't try to lie or mislead anyone, and the puppies were never harmed and were well looked after.She claimed the profit she made was between £32,000 and £34,000, which didn't take into account vets' bills and general upkeep.
Carmel Wilde, prosecuting, said the prosecution didn't accept this figure, and the Crown suggested she made up £54,500, before costs reduced this to around £48,000.Ms Wilde said Walker was now of "very limited means" and the Crown had decided to drop the application for a POCA.
Ms Wilde said since lockdown was introduced in March last year "demands of course for pets has increased significantly and the price of puppies has doubled and this has led to the breeding and sale of puppies being targeted by criminals".She said Walker gave the "false impression" that she had a legitimate business.Rachel Oakdene, defending, She is a lady who is an animal lover and certainly would never harm animals."Ms Oakdene said Walker accepted she made some profit, but didn't keep any records.The lawyer said: "She is certainly not somebody who has led an affluent lifestyle as a consequence of selling these dogs without a licence".
Recorder Unsworth stressed that there was information showing Walker was “extremely responsible" when it came to looking after dogs, adding that "people speak in positive terms about how she treats animals".
The judge said: "It's clear the defendant is a lover of animals and has done everything she can to ensure they were looked after properly." But he told Walker that regulations were in place to ensure purchasers knew they were buying from recognised breeders, adding: "This case remains a serious case."He handed her a 12-month community order, with a three-month home curfew from 9pm to 6am daily, and banned her from dealing in dogs for a year.