London

Uxbridge vet guilty of helping illegal puppy gang

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Media captionMax was one of the puppies sold by the puppy trading gang

A west London vet has been found guilty of helping a gang sell thousands of illegally bred puppies by issuing false paperwork for dogs.

Daniel Doherty, who operated out of Uxbridge, provided health checks and vaccination cards to help convince buyers the puppies were legal.

Isleworth Crown Court heard the 49-year-old was paid nearly £80,000 by the gang who took thousands of dogs to him.

Doherty, of Iver Heath, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud.

He and six members of the puppy trading gang - who all previously admitted fraud and animal welfare offences - will be sentenced on a date to be set in May.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Puppies were found by RSPCA inspectors who raided two properties used by the gang

The court heard the gang took more than 4,500 puppies to Doherty between 23 March 2011 and 10 May 2017.

He provided false documents to disguise the dogs imported from abroad or farmed, and they were sold by the gang across London and the South East.

The jury heard from witnesses whose animals had died from diseases, despite the paperwork stating the dogs had been given vaccinations.

Image copyright RSCPA
Image caption Max had to eat his food in a specially-designed chair because his disease made it hard for food to reach his stomach

One family from West Sussex that was caught up in the scam paid £470 for a pedigree spaniel and poodle cross.

However, they later found the dog had no poodle in him and had been bred on an illegal farm outside Britain.

The dog also collapsed not long after arriving with them and he was diagnosed with megaesophagus - a hereditary condition in which the oesophagus does not function properly.

Owner Rebecca Reed said he was now going "from strength to strength" following a £5,600 operation.

RSPCA inspector, Kirsty Withnall, said Doherty "should have had the animals' best interests at heart" but had "supplemented his income with fraudulent cash from the puppy trading gang."

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