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Kennel Club in puppy-buying warning after couple illegal dog farms in court

The bosses of a dog protection group behind the world famous Crufts have stressed the importance of breeding regulations after a Hampshire mother and daughter were caught running an illegal puppy farm .

Kennel Club chiefs also urged potential puppy buyers to “do the proper research” before parting with their cash.

It comes after two Hampshire women were ordered to pay over £600,000 after admitting breeding puppies without a licence.

Lucinda and Victoria Rolph have announced more than 190 litters of puppies for sale, as well as adult dogs, some priced at £1,500 each.

Experts say if all the dogs had been sold as advertised, the pair could have fetched up to £1.5million between 2013 and 2018.

But the couple appeared in court after demands to buy a £265 license for their operation were ignored.

A court heard there had “never been the slightest suggestion of mistreatment” of animals.

Commenting on the case, Ed Hayes, head of public affairs and policy at The Kennel Club, said: “This case highlights the lengths people will go to to avoid licensing.

“Responsible breeders should also keep tax and business records so they can show that their breeding activities are in compliance with the law.

“If they don’t follow the regulations, local authorities have the power to prosecute.

“Ultimately, it is imperative that bad breeders are exposed and good breeders are easily identified.

“We urge anyone looking to buy a puppy to do the proper research beforehand and always go with a responsible breeder.”

As reported in the Daily Echo yesterday, Lucinda Rolph, of Alma Lane, Upham, has been ordered to pay £601,700 within three months after being sentenced to five years in prison in absentia.

She was also ordered to pay costs of £20,000.

Victoria Rolph, 30, also of Alma Lane, Upham, was ordered to pay £14,950 within three months facing six months in jail on default.

The two women, who each admitted one count of running an unlicensed dog farm, were sentenced to 60 hours of unpaid work.

The court heard how licensing chiefs visited Lucinda Rolph’s £600,000 farm near Fair Oak and warned her that she needed a license for commercial dog breeding.

However, Southampton Crown Court heard the couple continued to advertise dogs and puppies for sale, sometimes under different names, without a licence.

They came to the attention of licensing chiefs again after a miniature dachshund they sold died weeks later of canine parvovirus – which can be prevented by vaccination.

The court heard the farm was housed on the property of Lucinda Rolph, 52, in Alma Lane, Upham, between 2013 and 2018.

Prosecutor Ethu Crorie said the couple would advertise the sale of puppies and adult dogs online through Pets4Homes and Preloved.

Mr Crorie told the court the couple advertised 38 different breeds, with prices ranging from £500 to £1,500 per animal.

Daily Echo:

He told the court the couple had several accounts in their own names and 18 with other people’s names – some of whom knew and were unaware their names were being used.

Mr Crorie said if each dog had sold as advertised and none of the adverts had been duplicated, the pair could have been paid up to £1.5million.

He told the court a warrant was executed at the puppy farm in May 2015 and licensing officers found litters of puppies as well as adult dogs.

Mr Crorie added that there were no records of sales or receipts and the couple had no tax records.

By way of mitigation, Jonathan Underhill said the two Rolphs pointed out that there was “never any suggestion of mistreatment” of animals.

Mr Underhill said: ‘But for the license the whole operation would have been legal.’

He said a dog breeding license issued by Winchester City Council cost £265.

Mr Underhill added that dog breeding legislation had recently changed, limiting the penalty for such offenses to a fine, and urged Judge Peter Henry to limit the amount of unpaid hours the couple faced .

At sentencing, Judge Henry said: “Lucinda Rolph was warned of the need for a license in 2015.

“She said at this point she was considering giving it all up.

“She was well aware that a permit was necessary.

“She kept no record of this lucrative business and they used false names to hide the fact that they were still selling adults and puppies during this time.”

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