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Man jailed for cropped and docked imports

Issue: 04/06/2021

A man has been jailed after illegally importing docked and cropped puppies into the UK and, ‘putting the nation’s rabies free status at risk.’
Peter Harman, from near Bournemouth, pleaded guilty to six offences related to the importation and sale of Dobermann puppies following an investigation by Dorset Council Trading Standards. Harman operated an online business called UK Dobermanns that specialised in importing cropped and docked puppies.
Cropping and docking is illegal in the UK and the government recently announced in its Action Plan for Animals that it will make it illegal to import cropped or docked puppies into the country.
A campaign calling for the ban has found that there is a demand for protection dogs partly due to the influence on social media of footballers and reality TV stars who show off their mutilated cropped dogs.
Harman had run the business since 2016 and was selling dogs for £3,000 each. It was estimated he had made hundreds and thousands of pounds from the trade.
APHA established that this was the third attempt to bring the same dogs into the UK, while the microchip numbers were the same, the passports were different on the day the dogs were detained compared with previous failed attempts to import the animals.

Warrant

A warrant was issued to Harman’s address and his mobile phones were seized along with a laptop computer.
The National Crime Agency examined conversations with a Serbian based Dobermann breeder. It was clear that the puppies had been imported from outside the EU but were made to look like they had originated from Romania, Hungary or Bulgaria so they could be legally imported into the UK.
The investigators also found that on a number of occasions Harman’s customers did not receive the puppy they had ordered and paid for and his business was described as “disgraceful”.
Malcolm Gibney, prosecuting, said, ‘By bringing underage dogs and dogs from outside of EU who could not have been properly vaccinated, he has put the UK’s Rabies-free status at risk. ‘It is important that the perpetrators are stopped for the sake of the disease to the UK and the welfare of the dogs.’
Harman had pleaded guilty to an offence under the Fraud Act of participating in a fraudulent business for a three-year period; four offences of breaching rabies import controls on numerous occasions and an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations of misleading claims in his advertising about the history and transportation of the animals.
He was sentenced to two years and four months in prison.


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