Published: Tuesday, 25th July 2017

A couple prosecuted for running an illegal dog breeding business have been ordered to pay over twelve thousand pounds in fines and costs and banned from keeping dogs.

Annette and Michael Smith of Meagill Lane Farm in Blubberhouses were prosecuted after officers from Harrogate Borough Council visited the property in February 2016 and discovered 36 dogs were being kept for the purposes of breeding for sale in the farmhouse and outbuildings. 11 different breeds of dog were identified, of which 18 were puppies.

Investigations revealed that between 1 January 2015 and 21 July 2016, Mr and Mrs Smith had been running a breeding establishment for dogs without holding the necessary licence.

At Harrogate Magistrates Court on Thursday 13 July 2017, Annette and Michael Smith pleaded guilty of offences under Section 1(1) of the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973.

On Tuesday 18 July 2017, the couple appeared before Harrogate Magistrates Court for sentencing and were fined a total of £2,600 and ordered to pay a £260 victim surcharge and Harrogate Borough Council's costs of £9,390, making a total of £12,250. In addition, Annette Smith was banned from keeping dogs or running a dog breeding establishment for five years, whilst Michael Smith was banned from keeping dogs or running a dog breeding establishment for three years.

On Friday 14 July 2017, Annette Smith had appeared before York Crown Court to appeal against her conviction and sentence for two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal contrary to section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Annette Smith withdrew her appeal against her conviction and York Crown Court reduced her 18 week custodial sentence to a suspended sentence and upheld a disqualification order which bans her from keeping dogs for five years.

Councillor Stuart Martin, Chairman of Harrogate Borough Council's Licensing Committee said; “The purpose of licensing dog breeders is to ensure that a high standard of welfare is maintained for the animals in their care and that only healthy dogs are put up for sale.

“The Smiths failed to apply for a licence despite reminders from the council. They also failed to meet the expected welfare standards as demonstrated by the evidence presented to the Courts and the statements made by 12 customers, some of which were left caring for very sick animals, which had been purchased from the Smiths.

“Whilst not all breeders require a licence - there are exemptions for small scale hobby breeders - Harrogate Borough Council encourages customers to make thorough checks on the people that they are buying dogs from. The council will be happy to advise if there are any doubts.

“We take the offence of illegal dog breeding extremely seriously and anyone found to be undertaking this activity must realise there will be serious consequences for their actions.”