A dog breeder who misled a Dorset woman about the condition of a puppy has been prosecuted following a trading standards investigation.
The Wimborne woman, who purchased the female bullmastiff puppy from Hampshire breeder Mr McGougan, was worried about its weeping eye. She was told by the trader that it had been standing in a draught, when in fact it had a serious condition that would need surgery once the dog was fully grown. Mr McGougan had been previously told by a vet that this was the case and that he must inform the buyer.
A complaint was made through the Citizens Advice consumer helpline which was investigated by Dorset County Council’s trading standards service.
Thomas McGougan, 53, of Deacon Road, Kimpton, Andover was found guilty of two offences under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, at Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court, (7 November).
He received an 18-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £600 compensation to the buyer of the puppy and £200 in prosecution costs, after taking into account his own health problems, and reliance on state benefits.
One key aspect that the court considered was whether the breeder was acting as a trader when he sold the dog and if he was subject to the consumer protection regulations. They decided that he was a trader given that Kennel Club records showed that he had bred 37 puppies over three years, which would have raised around £26,000, that he advertised on several websites and that he was a Kennel Club registered breeder. McGougan argued that he bred dogs merely to subsidise the cost of keeping his own dogs.
Kennel Club Secretary, Caroline Kisko, said: “The Kennel Club expects breeders to be transparent and honest about the health of their pups and pass on the relevant veterinary paperwork to the new owner. We would always advise going to a Kennel Club Assured Breeder when looking for a healthy and happy puppy, as it is the only scheme in the UK where dog breeders have to follow high standards and are inspected to ensure they are committed to the best possible breeding practices.
“If there is a prosecution and conviction against any individual then the Kennel Club has the right to follow up with relevant disciplinary action which may include a ban on registration of puppies.”
The council’s Cabinet member for community services, Cllr Colin Jamieson, said: “Our trading standards department offers advice to Dorset-based businesses of any sort, including dog breeders, advice to help them comply with fair trading legislation. This work helps support local business and protects consumers.
“If any local breeder is unsure of their legal requirements I would suggest they contact the trading standards business advice line on 01305 224702.”