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“Guilty” Plea for Illegal Dog Sales Published Date: 18/10/2019

East Northamptonshire Council (ENC) has welcomed the prosecution of three individuals after they pleaded guilty to selling dogs without a licence in Lilford. On Monday 14 October, Nigel Hockey, Maxine Thornton and Evangeline Proctor were sentenced to:

• A twelve month community order and ordered to perform 80 hours unpaid work

• A disqualification order for 5 years from dealing in dogs (both selling and breeding) to commence immediately


The defendants were also ordered to pay £3000 each as a contribution to the council’s costs, plus an £85 victim surcharge.


Officers from East Northamptonshire Council had suspected illegal activity on the Lilford Estate for a number of years and evidence obtained in October 2018 led to a full investigation which resulted in the successful prosecution on Monday 14 October at Wellingborough Magistrates’ Court.


It is believed that ENC is the first local authority to prosecute under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018.


Councillor Steven North, Leader of East Northamptonshire Council, said: 

“This case has highlighted that illegal dog sales can happen anywhere, especially in rural areas. We are delighted that the hard work of the team at East Northamptonshire Council has resulted in a conviction. We are continuously working to prevent illegal traders from selling dogs and would urge anyone considering buying a new puppy to be vigilant and report concerns to the Environmental Services Animal Licensing Team”.


Nicholas Truelove, Barrister, Kings Chambers added:

“This was a good result following an intense and lengthy investigation. It demonstrates that the new Regulations have sufficient breadth to require licences for advertising the sale of, as well as the actual sale of, dogs and puppies for profit.


“In turn, as was hoped at the introduction of these Regulations in October 2018, this should lead to a significant improvement in the welfare of such animals. There may be a long way to go to achieve this nationally, but this is a significant step in the right direction.”


When buying a puppy, it is advised that you consider the following:



1. Ask to see mum and puppy together

2. Visit your new puppy more than once

3. Get all your puppy’s paperwork before going home, including vaccinations, and ensure your puppy is microchipped

4. Walk away if you are at all unsure

5. Report suspicious sellers or breeders

6. Take your puppy to your own vet for a health check as soon as possible



1. Meet anywhere that isn’t the puppy’s home

2. Buy a puppy from anyone who can supply various breeds on demand

3. Buy a puppy that looks too young / small or underweight

4. Feel pressured to buy a puppy

5. Buy a puppy that you suspect has been illegally imported


If you are concerned about illegal puppy sales, speak to your local authority licensing service.