Illegal dog breeders ordered to pay back more than £600,000 following successful prosecution by Winchester City Council
A mother and daughter who bred dogs illegally, rearing at least 193 litters, have been ordered to pay back more than £600,000 by Southampton Crown Court. This follows an investigation and successful prosecution by Winchester City Council.
The court heard that Lucinda Rolph and her daughter, Victoria Rolph oversaw a dog breeding business in Hampshire, which operated without a licence. Evidence gathered by the council’s animal welfare team demonstrated that the Rolphs’ illegally sold at least 193 litters over a five year period between 2013-2018. A total of 38 different breeds including jack russells, miniature dachshunds and various cross breeds were sold online for prices ranging from £500-£1500.
The council’s investigation started after a complaint was passed to the team in July 2017. The complex case required the council to provide detailed evidence - this included obtaining an entry warrant for the property and identifying online accounts for websites, some using false identities, but linked back to the Rolphs’ email and phone numbers. Witness statements were taken from people who had bought puppies from the Rolphs.
The law at the time of the offence required people breeding dogs for sale must have a licence as a dog breeding establishment if they reared more than five litters in a year. The aim of the licensing regime is to ensure that the dogs are reared in safe, comfortable conditions and protected from disease for example, through appropriate vaccination.
In summary, Judge Henry said that the illegal operation had been carried on for some considerable time. Lucinda Rolph had been warned of the need for a licence and had said that she was giving up breeding, yet she continued for a number of years. They kept no records of this lucrative business and they used other people’s names - without their permission - to sell the puppies.
Lucinda Rolph was given a Confiscation Order of £601,700.60 and Victoria Rolph, a Confiscation Order of £14,950. The council was awarded costs of £20,000. The pair were each ordered to undertake 60 hours of unpaid work over a 12 month period and they were disqualified from breeding dogs for six years.
Winchester City Council Cabinet Member for Built Environment and Wellbeing, Cllr Jackie Porter, said:
“Unlicensed breeding is a serious matter and we carried out extensive investigations to bring the matter to the court.This sends a strong deterrent to anyone who thinks they can profit from unlicensed dog breeding and flaunt the protections that are in place to protect dogs.”