Two "distinguished" dog-breeders have to pay back a staggering $546,000 after exploiting several dogs to make cash off their puppies or face two years in jail.
The two are a married couple, 43-year-old Karl and 40-year-old Victoria Shellard. Together, they started an unlicensed business known as 'PosherBulls,' which they ran from home.
During the peak of their illicit business, the couple sold one of their puppies for up to $27,000.
Through ads they posted on a website and social media, they managed to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars and accumulate well over $1 million in assets.
Due to their business, the couple managed to get very wealthy. They were able to profit during a time when there was a very high demand for dogs.
To avoid prison, they have to pay fines amounting to $25,800, pay back the $507,480 they made from selling the pups, and pay $59,000 in court costs.
It was discovered that the two dog-breeders were forcing their dogs to deliver more than one every year, which is against animal welfare laws. One of the dogs, Coco, delivered six litters in four years.
In a period of six years, the two managed to breed at least 67 litters.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, there was a high demand for dogs, and the pair marketed them by posting their cute images online.
Before things took a turn for the worse for the enterprising couple, they had apparently been warned by the authorities about their unlicensed business several times.
Animal welfare officers had paid them a visit in January 2018 and informed them that they needed to apply for a breeder's license, but they ignored the recommendation.
According to the prosecutor, Tim Evans, the two are "experienced breeders" and "leaders in distinguished Bulldogs of all colors."
In December 2019, a raid was done on their home in South Wales. Two other properties linked to their business were also raided.
Twenty dogs were found in an outbuilding and a lab that had microscopes and equipment used to collect semen and take blood.
The investigators also discovered a partly-filled Breeder License Application Form. The couple had not sent off the form, and they had only taken serious steps to apply for a license after a warrant was issued against their premises.
The warrant was issued two years after being informed that they needed a license to continue with their dog-breeding business.
In his defense, Karl argued that the only reason they had not sent the form was that they were trying to sell their home and would therefore have to use a different address.
Nevertheless, he did not deny that he had been breeding dogs for six years even though he did not have a license authorizing him to do so.
His wife Victoria, a mother of three, said the puppies were selling for up to $27,000. The two also admitted to back-to-back breeding, whereby a dog delivers more than one litter in a 12-month period.
The crimes took place between 2014 and 2020, and at one time, 43 litter had been delivered in a single year.
It was noted that even if the pair did not have a breeder's license, the fact that they forced the dogs to undergo C-sections even before they had fully healed from previous procedures was against animal welfare laws.
The two would inseminate the dogs before they were strong enough to conceive, which could force them to undergo operations before they were physically fit to do so.
Last year, an inspection showed that the couple was managing the health issues facing the animals very poorly. The dogs lacked adequate space, the facilities had poor ventilation, and the pair lacked a basic understanding of proper breeding guidelines.
In the end, the two agreed they were guilty of breeding the dogs without a license. They faced nine counts of failing to make sure that they met the needs of protected animals.
Even though their lawyer argued that their dogs were "healthy and of unquestionable pedigree," the judge accused the pair of running a puppy farm without proper registration and were certainly "going to pay the price for that folly."