A judge fined a married couple £400,000 for unlawfully breeding and selling dogs at their rural residence.
After establishing their unlawful ‘PosherBulls’ breeding operation from their property in Bonvilston, south Wales, Karl and Victoria Shellard forced dogs to birth back-to-back litters.
During the lockdown, the illegal dog breeders were able to profit from the increased demand for canines, selling puppies for up to £20,000 each.
The pair allegedly produced at least 67 litters over the course of six years, with one dog named Coco producing six litters in four years.
They also made up to £372,000 selling bulldog pups to consumers via adverts on a website and social media, and their assets total more than £1 million.
Karl, 43, and Victoria Shellard, 40, were both fined £19,000 and forced to pay back £372,531 or face two years in jail for back-to-back breeding, in which dogs delivered more than one litter in a 12-month period.
The pair was originally contacted by animal protection inspectors in January 2018 and told they needed to apply for a breeder’s permit, according to Cardiff Crown Court.
In December 2019, their four-bedroom detached home in Bonvilston, South Wales, was raided, along with two other residences linked to the firm.
Investigators discovered 20 dogs in an outbuilding at the couple’s house, along with a laboratory equipped with microscopes and equipment for collecting sperm and blood.
Officers also discovered a partially filled Breeder Licence Application Form that had never been submitted.
According to the court, 24 canines were located on a nearby farm, while six dogs were discovered 15 miles distant.
The Shellards claimed to be “expert breeders” and “leaders in outstanding Bulldogs of all colors,” according to prosecutor Tim Evans.
‘Despite these evident efforts to help their dog breeding company, they neglected to apply for a breeding license until January 2020,’ Mr Evans said.
‘That was two weeks after a warrant was executed at the property and almost two years after I was advised a license was required.’
Karl Shellard stated he had not submitted the application because he and his wife were attempting to sell their property and would need to alter their address.
Despite not possessing a license, he admitted to breeding dogs for six years.
Meanwhile, Victoria Shellard, a mother of three, claimed they would sell puppies for anything between £1,500 and £20,000.
Back-to-back breeding was admitted by the couple, in which dogs had produced more than one litter in a 12-month span.
The offenses were committed between 2014 and 2020, according to the court, with records on C-sections suggesting 43 litters were delivered in only one year.
‘If they had been licensed breeders, this back-to-back breeding would have been a licensing infraction,’ Mr Evans added. It’s something that even reputable breeders should avoid at all costs.
‘However, regardless of the lack of a breeder’s license, it’s an animal welfare violation since recovery after a C-section takes months, and the Shellards were artificially inseminating these dogs long before they were fit enough to go through another pregnancy and C-section.’
‘Breeding the animals in this manner was a good decision.’
Following the couple’s formal application for a breeding license in February of last year, a vet check was conducted.
However, it was denied owing to poorly handled health concerns, insufficient housing and space for dogs, a lack of awareness of the requirements, and inadequate isolation facilities for unvaccinated dogs.
The couple admitted to breeding dogs without a license and failing to meet the requirements of a protected animal for which they were responsible on nine counts.
They made £372,531 unlawfully yet had £1,041,714 in accessible assets, according to investigations under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Heath Edwards, who defended the company, said the canines were ‘healthy and of unquestioned pedigree’ and that the company was ‘nationally and globally recognized’ for their quality.
‘You were running a puppy farm and doing it to generate money, and you made a lot of money,’ Judge David Wynn Morgan said.
‘If you had been properly registered, you might have ran a very prosperous business, but you’re going to pay the price.’
The pair has three months to pay or they will be sent to prison for 24 months.
They’ve also been sentenced to pay £43,775 in court fees.