A married couple who illegally bred and sold dogs at their country home have been fined £400,000 by a judge.
Karl and Victoria Shellard forced canines to deliver back-back litters after setting up their unlicensed ‘PosherBulls’ breeding service from their home in Bonvilston, south Wales.
The rogue pair of dog-breeders were able to cash in on rising demand for dogs during the lockdown, selling puppies for up to £20,000 a time.
A court heard the couple bred at least 67 litters over six years – with one dog named Coco delivering six litters within a four-year period.
They also made up to £372,000 selling bulldog puppies to customers through advertisements on a website and social media – and have more than £1million in assets.
Karl, 43, and Victoria Shellard, 40, admitted back-to-back breeding – where dogs had delivered more than one litter in a 12-month period – and were both fined £19,000 and ordered to pay back £372,531 or face two years in prison.
Karl and Victoria Shellard were both fined £19,000 and ordered to pay back £372,531 after admitting back-to-back breeding
The dog-breeders were able to cash in on rising demand for dogs during the lockdown, selling puppies for up to £20,000 a time. Pictured: Some of the Bulldogs advertised by the couple online
Cardiff Crown Court heard the couple were first visited by animal welfare officers in January 2018 and told they needed to apply for a breeder’s licence.
Their four-bedroom detached home in Bonvilston, South Wales, was then raided in December 2019 – along with two other properties connected with the business.
Investigators found 20 dogs in an outbuilding at their home with a laboratory fitted with microscopes and equipment for collecting semen and taking blood.
Officers also found a signed part-completed Breeder Licence Application Form which had never been sent off.
The court heard 24 dogs were found at a nearby property while six dogs were discovered at a building 15 miles away.
Prosecutor Tim Evans said the Shellards claimed to be ‘experienced breeders’ and ‘leaders in distinguished Bulldogs of all colours’.
Mr Evans said: ‘Despite these obvious works to facilitate their dog breeding business they failed to apply for a breeding licence until January 2020.
‘That was two weeks after the execution of a warrant at the premises and almost two years after being told that a licence was necessary.’
The court heard the crimes took place between 2014 and 2020 – with information on C-sections showing 43 litters had been delivered in just one year. Pictured: Some of the couple’s canines
The couple admitted back- to-back breeding – where dogs had delivered more than one litter in a 12-month period
The rogue pair set up their ‘PosherBulls’ breeding service from their home and bred at least 67 litters over six years. Pictured: Some if the Bulldogs advertised on the couple’s site
Karl Shellard claimed he had not sent off the licence application because he and his wife were trying to sell their home and would need to change the address.
He admitted practising dog breeding for six years despite not having a licence.
Meanwhile mother-of-three Victoria Shellard said they would sell puppies for anything between £1,500 and £20,000.
The pair admitted back-to-back breeding – where dogs had delivered more than one litter in a 12-month period.
The court heard the crimes took place between 2014 and 2020 – with information on C-sections showing 43 litters had been delivered in just one year.
Mr Evans said: ‘This back-to-back breeding would have been a licensing offence had they been licensed breeders. It is something that even legitimate breeders should never do.
‘But, irrespective of the absence of a breeder’s licence, it’s an animal welfare offence as the recovery from a C-section takes many months and the Shellards were artificially inseminating these dogs long before they were healthy enough to undergo a pregnancy and subsequent C-section again.
‘This was a positive decision to breed the animals in that way.’
A vet inspection was carried out in February last year after the couple officially applied for a breeding licence.
The couple were first visited by animal welfare officers in January 2018 and told they needed to apply for a breeder’s licence, Cardiff Crown Court heard
But it was not granted due to poorly-managed health issues, unfit accommodation and lack of space for dogs, a lack of understanding the guidelines and poor isolation facilities for unvaccinated dogs.
The pair pleaded guilty to breeding dogs without a licence and nine counts of failing to ensure the needs of a protected animal for which they were responsible.
Investigations under the Proceeds of Crime Act revealed they made £372,531 illegally but had available assets of £1,041,714.
Defending Heath Edwards said the business became ‘nationally and internationally recognised’ for the quality of the dogs which were ‘healthy and of unquestionable pedigree’.
Judge David Wynn Morgan said: ‘You were running a puppy farm and doing it to make money, and you made a great deal of money indeed.
‘You could have run an extremely profitable business if you were properly registered but you’re going to pay the price for that folly.’
The couple have three months to pay or they will have to spend 24 months in prison.
They have also been ordered to pay court costs of £43,775.