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Puppy farm gang convicted of fraud

A vet from Iver Heath has been convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud by falsifying paperwork for thousands of puppies who were being sold by a puppy farming gang across London and the South East.

Daniel Doherty, 50, of Wood Lane, Iver Heath, operated two My Vets surgeries in Uxbridge, west London, where he conspired with Simon O’Donnell, Thomas O’Donnell, Thomas Stokes, Edward Stokes and others to commit fraud.

The four-week trial at Isleworth Crown Court heard how Doherty made false representations to members of the public for the purpose of selling puppies between December 1, 2013 and 14 February 14, 2017.

They were intended to disguise the fact that the puppies were of unknown origin (imported or puppy farmed animals), by providing local health check and vaccination cards and false information that the puppy was the offspring of a family pet, home-bred, and socialised within a local residential family environment.

RSPCA inspector Kirsty Withnall, who led the investigation into Doherty’s involvement with the gang - nicknamed Operation Rivet - said: “This was a vet who should have known better and should have had the animals’ best interests at heart.

“But he was supplementing his income with fraudulent cash from the puppy trading gang who were making millions from selling sick and dying puppies to unsuspected members of the public.

“Doherty was knowingly signing off vaccination cards and veterinary paperwork for thousands of puppies in the gang members’ real names as well as approving the paperwork that was written out in their fake aliases.

“He was complicit and, if anything, aided their fraud because any buyers who purchased puppies from the gang may well have been comforted and reassured by the fact that the dog they were buying had paperwork to say it had already been to a vet for vaccinations and health checks.”

Vaccination cards said the puppies had been vaccinated against deadly viruses and diseases like parvovirus, which many of the puppies owned by witnesses in the trial had actually contracted, some succumbing to the highly contagious viral disease.

Inspector Withnall added: “The problem is that the puppies had not been adequately checked so some were already harbouring illnesses by the time they were sold.”

Doherty and the other gang members will appear back at Isleworth Crown Court next month (May) for sentencing.

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