Operating without a licence has cost a mother and daughter dog breeding team in excess of £2,000.
At the conclusion of a two day trial Lynn Hardey, 62, and Jennifer Saxby, 30, were found guilty of running a breeding establishment at their premises in Side Bar Lane, Heckington Fen without the required licence which they should have obtained from North Kesteven District Council.
The council raised the prosecution for the unlicensed breeding of dogs, over a 12 month period up to January 31, 2013, prompted by a number of complaints and welfare concerns expressed by people worldwide who bought the Tamaskan dogs the pair specialised in. The case heard from a woman in France who paid more than £1200 for one of the puppies.
They were fined a total of £400 with a costs order totalling £1,600 plus £20 victim surcharge each after District Judge John Stobbart, sitting at Lincoln Magistrates Court, said they had limited ability to pay. The maximum fine they faced was £2,500 each with the council incurring considerable costs in bringing the prosecution to court.
The judge concluded that because the women were ‘conjoined’ in their operation, with ‘cross-fertilisation’ between dogs, operating from the same location and had delivered more than five litters in a year between them, they should be considered under the 1973 Breeding of Dogs Act to be carrying out a business of breeding.
He expressed no concerns over animal welfare and said they had been ‘somewhat blinded to the situation by their love of what they were doing’. “The last thing they were being is cruel, however wrong is exactly what they were,” he said.
Hardey and Saxby argued that they operated entirely separately – respectively as Blustag and Blufawn – and that although they lived at the same address, their homes were separate and their breeding was separate, with Hardey saying she produced only four litters in 2012, three of them born at a daughter’s in Cheshire, while Saxby delivered three litters at home. But the Judge said the Act had ‘foreseen situations like this’ where a defence was claimed that the breeding was carried out on a scale and across different premises and so fell below the requirements of a licence and ‘side-stepped the law by merely sending the bitches away to give birth elsewhere’.
With a 30-year history of breeding dogs, Hardey insisted her prime motivation behind breeding was to improve the sled-dog breed which she herself founded. “It’s a hobby, not a business. When I have bred a litter it’s only to keep a puppy I think will improve the breed and help me in shows and racing,” she said in evidence.
Her daughter Saxby claimed to have bred only 12 litters in her life, saying it was a hobby rather than a business because there was no profit to be made or a wage to be drawn.”
The court heard from the defendants’ own vet that he issued pet passports to around 10 dogs for sale overseas and the council said it was aware of at least eight litters over a year, from which animals were sold to Norway, Finland and France for around £1,200 each as well as across the UK.
The council searched the premises with police and RSPCA support on January 11, 2013, in response to a series of complaints from customers who had bought or considered buying dogs.
The law requires anyone breeding five or more litters in a 12-month period to have a breeding licence. The district council will sometimes check up, even if numbers are less than this, to ensure the welfare of the animals.
After the case, Coun Richard Wright, Executive Board Member with responsibility for environmental health and enforcement welcomed the Judge’s conclusion of guilt and his statement that the ‘prosecution was properly drawn’.
“When it comes to the welfare of animals we have to be extremely vigilant in upholding and enforcing standards and procedures. What these ladies were doing was far from acceptable in our eyes and we now expect that should they wish to consider breeding dogs on this scale, they legitimise their operation and bring it under the regulation required of the proper licence,” said Coun Wright. “To have a licence would cost in the region of only £300.”