Northumberland furniture salesman fined for illegally importing puppies

A Northumberland furniture salesman has been fined after illegally importing puppies from Holland into England

Illegal animal importer John Graham from Newbiggin
Illegal animal importer John Graham from Newbiggin

A furniture salesman has been ordered to pay back thousands of pounds after illegally importing puppies into the country.

Families were forced to put down their pets or place the animals in quarantine which cost hundreds of pounds when the Shih Tzu and Maltese puppies were brought into England without their rabies shot.

Yesterday at a hearing at Bedlington Magistrates’ Court John Graham, 37, of North Seaton Road, in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, pleaded guilty to importing 10 puppies from Holland.

Two of the 10 animals were put to sleep, one died and seven were placed in quarantine after arriving on September 3

Graham was ordered to pay back more than £4,000 and was given a two-year conditional discharge.

Last night families who bought the dogs from Graham said they were pleased he was being made to pay back the cash.

After buying the new family pet Boo, mum-of-two Alice Murray had taken the puppy to get its parvovirus injections at Pets at Home in Kingston Park when the vet spotted the warning it did not appear to have its rabies shot.

The dog, which had a pet passport from Holland, was placed in quarantine but is now back home with the family, including Alice’s two sons Fergus, 13, and Finlay, 10.

She said: “I’m overjoyed with the result. I’m glad he’s had to pay the money back. He has got what he deserved.

“It’s not nice for the families who have had to put their dogs down.”

After being contacted by vets Newcastle City Council’s trading standards immediately put the wheels in motion and contacted a Defra quarantine centre in Chesterfield.

Investigations began and Northumberland County Council issued warnings to pet owners before other buyers came forward.

Lisa Bishop, prosecuting for the council, said: “It was a huge risk bringing these puppies into the country without the relevant vaccination.”

Graham, a father-of-four, pleaded guilty to 10 charges of illegally importing puppies under the contravention of the requirements of the Rabies Order.

James Errington, mitigating, said: “Here is someone that has made a mistake. As soon as Trading Standards came Mr Graham made complete admission to them.

“It was a mistake by him that he has accepted. He acted unknowingly and fairly.”

Andy Roger, 64, also of Newbiggin, had bought a Maltese puppy from Graham and the dog, called Bobby, was placed in quarantine for six weeks.

Following the court case he said: “Mr Graham has just been niaive.”

Victoria Barrington, Head of Public Protection at Northumberland County Council, said: “This case demonstrates how important it is to check the history of an animal andto make sure that it is what it claims to be, before handing over any money.

“Purchasers should beware of unscrupulous dealers who breed animals in appalling conditions in this country and abroad and of those who are prepared to import animals illegally in breach of rabies and other health requirements.

“The Animal Health Team will always take strong action against those who are found to have broken the law, and I hope that the penalty imposed on Mr Graham by the Court will act as a deterrent to others who may be tempted to act in a similar way.

“However, as an animal lover myself, I would urge anyone who is thinking of adopting a dog to consider rehoming one from one of the rescue centres in the North East.

“Many of these dogs will make excellent pets and will bring pleasure and a feeling of satisfaction to a family.”


David Whetstone
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