Cruel puppy trader finally behind bars
A puppy farm trader who had been on the run for nearly two years has now been jailed for 22 weeks.
Patrick Ward, 40, was prosecuted by the RSPCA after a string of complaints from people who had bought puppies from him.
Charity bosses have confirmed that at least four of those puppies later had to be put to sleep.
Ward, then of Windermere Court, Leigh, was found guilty by Wigan magistrates in late August 2016 of five charges of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and one of failing in the duty of a person responsible for an animal’s welfare.
He was sentenced after his arrest by police earlier this month.
His sister-in-law Julie Michelle Ward, also of Windermere Court, was convicted of similar offences and his brother, Julie’s husband, Martin Ward, then of Douglas Road, Leigh, was found guilty of failing in his animal welfare duties.
There are still outstanding warrants for the arrests of Julie and Martin Ward.
Prosecutors told the 2016 trial that one customer bought a puppy from Ward for £180.
But the dog, named Bella, suffered a seizure the day after being taken home and was later treated at an RSPCA hospital in Salford, the court heard.
But while the customer received a refund from Martin Ward, Bella never responded to treatment and had to be put down.
One of the vets who treated Bella said the dog had low blood sugar levels, a common complaint among puppies taken from their mothers too soon, it was alleged.
Another offence involved a second puppy, sold for £300, which had an ear mite infestation, the court heard.
RSPCA inspectors launched a separate inquiry after a third puppy, a black and white terrier, was found dead at the Douglas Road property. An investigation found that the puppy had died from a gastrointestinal infection known as parvovirus.
They also found a tan and white terrier thought to have been suffering from a fractured pelvis for between seven and 10 days. A third puppy was found to be in pain in both ears caused by inflamed ear canals and an ear mite infestation.
Other welfare charges involving five other puppies were brought, the court heard.
RSPCA inspectors seized no fewer than 13 mobile phones, some labelled with different dog breeds. This was regarded as a common feature of seasoned puppy farming operations.
Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Pippa Boyd, who led the investigation into the puppy sellers, said: “We launched an investigation into Mr Ward, his brother and his sister-in-law after receiving complaints from members of the public who had purchased puppies that had soon fallen ill after arriving home.
“We believe the trio were importing puppies and selling them from two addresses in Leigh. When we joined police to execute warrants at the properties in February 2016 we found a number of dogs and other evidence.
“At one address – in Windermere Road – we found a number of phones labelled with different dog breeds.
“At the other – in Douglas Road – we found three dogs, one with an untreated broken pelvis, and the body of a dead Jack Russell terrier left in a kennel.”