A Northumberland horse dealer smuggled eight puppies into the country which were not properly vaccinated against rabies, a court heard.
John Hedley Graham, 66, of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, brought the young Maltese terriers into the country on the ferry from Holland to North Shields, North Tyneside magistrates heard yesterday.
The court was told the dogs had been vaccinated against rabies, but that they were too young for this to take effect.
Pensioner Graham, whose family runs a carpet shop, was told his actions could have had “dire consequences”.
He pleaded guilty to eight charges brought by North Tyneside Council’s trading standards department. Magistrates heard Graham, of Woodhorn Road, picked up the puppies – said to be worth £800 to £1,000 each – in Holland.
When he arrived at North Shields ferry terminal on October 23 last year, the council’s animal health inspector Paul Tyrie asked him what he had in his vehicle.
Graham told him he had one horse and seven trays of lager.
However, Mr Tyrie found the puppies inside the vehicle – creatures he was not authorised to transport.
The court was told Graham had no health certificates for the animals and that he had failed to inform the relevant authorities he was to bring them into the country.
Furthermore, none of the creatures had been fitted with microchips and their animal passports were defective.
The dogs had been vaccinated against rabies but, because they were so young, this would not have had any effect. They had also not been treated against tapeworm.
The animals were placed in quarantine.
Prosecutor Peter Rowbotham said: “Had the inspector not intervened, these animals could have come into the country. They could have been diseased.
“There could have been difficulties if they had been sold on and the knock-on in terms of rabies.”
Defending, James Errington said Graham had been asked to bring the animals into the country by his son, also John Graham, and that he assumed everything would be in order. Dutch authorities had checked the puppies before the crossing.
Mr Errington claimed his client had made no attempt to hide the creatures and that his was an offence of “ignorance”.
Graham was ordered to complete 40 hours unpaid work, to pay £850 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
Chairman of the magistrates Eleanor Hayward told him: “We regard this as a serious offence.”