A DOG-SELLER has been banned from owning a pet shop for 15 years after a two-year investigation into the poor condition of puppies from his shops.
Stuart Wood, of Hawthorn Avenue, Kenton, was convicted of 18 offences under the Pet Animals Acts at Willesden Magistrates Court last week. He was fined £17,000 as well as being banned from owning a pet shop.
The 39-year-old owned Sylvesters Pet Shop, in Long Elms, Harrow Weald, and another shop in Hanwell, Ealing, and had been under investigation from Harrow Council since one of his customers contracted scabies from a puppy which had been infected with fox mange.
Wood had been importing animals from farms in the Republic of Ireland, where no licence is needed, and had sold more than 200 animals.
The court heard that Wood had been previously prosecuted by Ealing Council for breaching conditions of his pet shop licence in Hanwell, falsified records, concealed information from his customers and tried to deceive the licensing authority in breach of his licence conditions.
Wood told the Observer: “It’s got nothing to do with animal welfare issues. There were no accusations of animals being mistreated, it’s just paper work.
“It’s completely unfair and we’re appealing.”
Oliver Viner, a vet at Blythwood Veterinary Group, which has surgeries in Hatch End, Northwood, Bushey and Stanmore, said: “We have seen a disproportionate number from Sylvesters.
“Many of them have stomach problems, which is not unusual in puppies. If there is a problem with them the shop said they would take the animal back, but once someone has bought a puppy the last thing they want to do is give it back after 48 hours. Many of them were sorted, but needed a good few hundred pounds spent on them.”
Mr Viner advised prospective dog owners to always buy from a breeder rather than a pet shop.
Sara Wallis, 48, and her daughter Kirstie, 23, from Northwood bought a pug-beagle cross, Bentley, from the shop in December last year, which cost £500 and she estimates the total came to £1,200 after medical bills were included.
She said: “We had to spend a lot of money on him as his stomach looked like a pot belly. He was full of worms and there was blood in his faeces and they did an operation on him when he was very young to fix a hernia.”
Another customer, Sally Thomas, 37, bought what she thought was a pug-beagle cross, but as Woody grew she said it was obvious he was a pug crossed with a Jack Russell.
Only potential buyers were allowed to see the dogs, which were kept in cages at the back of the shop.
Councillor Phillip O’Dell, portfolio holder for environment and community safety on Harrow Council, said: “This case should send a clear warning to anyone who tries to sell puppies bred on unlicensed farms.
“Harrow Council imposes strict conditions on pet shop owners to prevent the sale of puppies bred in often disgusting conditions.
“As well as the cruelty to the animals themselves, the dogs pose a danger to the public as they often carry infections or are born with health and behavioural problems.
“This was a premeditated and deliberate crime on a shocking scale and we are satisfied with the sentence handed down by the court.”