St Albans woman convicted for selling sick and dying puppies

Ben and Max, two westies who died five days after being bought from Poulton.

Ben and Max, two westies who died five days after being bought from Poulton. - Credit: Archant

A St Albans woman who sold sick and dying puppies has pleaded guilty to six counts of causing suffering to dogs.

Louise St John Poulton, 43, from Highgrove, also admitted to three counts of failing to meet the needs of a number of dogs.

RSPCA Inspector Hercy Boal said: “All of the dogs were petrified. The minute you touched them they froze from fear.”

Poulton was handed down a 22-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, by Birmingham magistrates court, and was banned from keeping dogs for life.

She was also ordered to pay £15,000 in costs after her and her partner sold sick and dying puppies, some of which died days after being bought.

Ms Boal said: “We were contacted by people who had bought schnauzers, Westies and pugs from a farm.

“Many of them had fallen ill within just a few hours and, tragically, some of them died within just a few days.

Most Read

“Not only did the new owners have to cover hefty vet bills, but they also had to deal with the trauma and heartbreak of watching their new puppies die in front of their eyes.”

The RSPCA and the police executed a warrant to search a Solihull farm in December 2015.

They removed 37 puppies and dogs, a number of which were pregnant, and 27 pups were later born under RSPCA care.

Officers also removed the body of a dead puppy wrapped in a plastic bag from the foot well of a van.

Ms Boal said: “The dogs were being kept in disgusting conditions and were absolutely terrified.

“Some were being kept locked in rooms inside the house, including a frightened pregnant shih tzu who was being kept in a cold downstairs loo.

“Four dogs, three of which were pregnant, had been locked in an outbuilding in total darkness, there was no light or ventilation whatsoever.”

On a whiteboard in one of the stables, officers found a instructions for the daily care of the dogs, including: “Keep puppies quiet, do not let them bark. Squirt them or use whip to crack in yard.”

Paperwork found at the house tied the couple to the sales of puppies, and 17 mobile phones were removed and analysed, revealing texts from some of the buyers who had contacted the RSPCA.

Most of the dogs rescued from the farm were fostered, two of which by Tom Mather, who had previously lost two Westies five days after buying them from Poulton.

He has now permanently adopted the two, a shih tzu cross poodle called George, and a jack russell cross border terrier called Jack.

Mr Mather said: “George and Archie are part and parcel of life now, they are my little babies,” Tom explained.

“These two have fallen on their paws, I dread to think what might have happened to them if they hadn’t been rescued by the RSPCA.”

Poulton’s partner, Sean Kerr, was convicted of the same offences as her in February, and was sentenced to six months in prison, ordered to pay £30,000, and banned from keeping dogs for life.