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£300K Norfolk gang jailed for selling sick dogs and puppies

The three people charged with animal cruelty in Norfolk dog-angry
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A gang that kept dogs in “disgusting conditions” but made £300,000 from sales of “healthy and socialised” animals has been sentenced at Norwich Crown Court.

By Nick Whittle , 27 Jun 2019

Jacob Murphy and Michael and Zoe Rushmer stood accused this month of cruelty to animals and conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

The case was brought by the RSPCA after its discovery of 74 dogs at a farm in Thurlton, Norfolk. A spokesman for the Society speaking at the trial described how the dogs were kept in “disgusting conditions.”

The BBC reported on the case and revealed how the dogs were locked in “cages, dark sheds and a caravan in temperatures up to 30C.”

27-year-old Murphy and Mr Rushmer were  jailed for 42 months each. Zoe Rushmer was given a two-year suspended sentence on account of her having four dependent children.

The gang's operations

Ms Rushmer was the “face” of the operation which saw the gang offering puppies for sale at an average price of £675. The puppies were falsely described as “bred in a family environment” and “healthy, socialised and treated for worms and fleas,” according to the BBC.

The truth of the matter, explained prosecuting barrister Hazel Evans, was that many of the dogs were in fact dying of malnourishment or disease. A number of the dogs rescued from the farm were put down.

Sentencing, Judge Andrew Shaw described the gang’s operations as “callous”. He said the activities begun by the trio in 2015 struck “at the very heart of this nation's love for its pets, dogs in particular".

After the sentences were handed down, RSPCA Inspector Amy Pellegrini told the BBC that the farm was nothing more than a "puppy factory".

Families thought they were buying puppies who had been bred and reared in loving family homes but in reality they had been bred in disgusting conditions with little regard for their health or welfare but simply how much money they would bring in.”