A married couple who raked in a fortune by illegally breeding and selling bulldogs have been ordered to pay more than £450,000 of it back.
Karl and Victoria Shellard, who ran PosherBulls from their four-bedroom detached home in Bonvilston, Vale of Glamorgan, pleaded guilty to charges under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The pair, who have three children, admitted not having an appropriate licence and failing to meet the needs of the dogs in their care, including forcing bitches to undergo multiple pregnancies and deliver more than one litter a year.
The husband and wife team were not giving their breeding dogs enough time to recover, often artificially inseminating them soon after they had given birth to a previous litter, Cardiff Crown Court was told.
In January 2018, the Shellards were told if they had another litter of puppies they would need a breeding licence, with failure to obtain one possibly leading to prosecution.
Despite being told multiple times, they chose not to apply for one and a vet later concluded that, had an application been submitted, it would not have been successful.
After an investigation by the Shared Regulatory Services (SRS) on behalf of Vale of Glamorgan Council, a warrant was executed in December 2019 at the couple’s home, where 28 dogs were found in outbuildings.
A laboratory with equipment – including a multipurpose centrifuge machine, microscopes, equipment for storing and collecting semen and for taking blood – was also discovered, the court was told on Friday.
At another of the Shellards’ properties in the village, officers found a further 24 dogs, while another six dogs were found at a third property in North Cornelly.
The couple bred at least 67 litters between 2014 and 2020, it was revealed.
Information on known carried out C-sections indicated 43 of those litters were delivered in one year alone between 2018 and 2019.
One dog, Coco, had six litters within a four-year period while numerous others were forced to deliver two litters in less than a 12-month period.
The Shellards registered their dogs with five different veterinary practices and litters were given different names and addresses to avoid detection by both the local authority and Kennel Club, the court was told.
Investigations under the Proceeds of Crime Act revealed they made £372,531 from the illegal business, but had available assets of more than £1 million.
Victoria Shellard, 40, told investigators the pair would sell the puppies for between £1,500 and £20,000.
Both admitted back-to-back breeding – where dogs deliver more than one litter in a 12-month period.
Karl Shellard, 43, claimed he had not sent off the licence application as they were trying to sell their home and would have had to change the address on the application.
However, on sentencing, Judge David Wynn Morgan said their reasons for not getting a licence were “wholly inadequate”.
The Shellards were fined £19,000 each, ordered to pay prosecution costs of £43,775.50, and a victim surcharge of £175 each.
They were also told to repay £372,531.54 within three months or face a two-year prison sentence.
Councillor Eddie Williams, Vale of Glamorgan Council’s cabinet member for legal, regulatory and planning services, said: “Careful work by SRS has led to this outcome, bringing people involved in cruel and unregulated animal breeding practices to justice.
“I hope this sends out a message that the council will not tolerate such behaviour.
“We will come after anyone involved in this type of activity and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.”