A PUPPY seller has been jailed and banned from trading after working without a licence.

Kevin Knox, trading as Ivy Leaf Kennels, in Burnhope, County Durham, had attracted complaints about dogs becoming ill on the day of purchase.

The 59-year-old has now been jailed for eight months after he admitted to trading without a pet shop licence and advertising under a false name. 

He was prosecuted by Durham County Council.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Knox, of The Grove, Burnhope, was a partner in Ivy Leaf at a premises elsewhere in the village, under a pet shop licence, until March 2018.

A judge was told that the council’s animal health team investigated beyond this date and concluded that the premises was still being run as a pet shop despite a licence no longer being in place.

Evidence was found of Knox advertising on the pet shop’s website and other online sales pages using a false name.

The court heard how in June of last year, the council received a complaint of a puppy, having been purchased via the Ivy Leaf website, becoming ill on the day of purchase. 

Enquiries revealed that the purchasers contacted the business and spoke to Knox. They then attended the Ivy Leaf site where Knox’s business partner showed them a selection of puppies and sold them one.

The judge was told that further complaints were received about two purchases in July 2018, with puppies again becoming ill on the day they were bought.

These purchases had been made in response to adverts placed in the false name of Graham Thompson. 

However upon purchase all paperwork was completed in the name of Ivy Leaf Kennels and Kevin Knox. 

Further enquiries revealed that the defendant bought microchips and that he took 33 puppies in to vets between June and August 2018.

Knox pleaded guilty to two charges at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court in March - operating without a pet shop licence and giving false information as to his identity.

The sentencing hearing was told how Knox’s licence had been due for renewal in December 2017 and how he had taken until the February of the following year to seek this. However the council refused the application last April.

The business had considered appealing but chose not to. At the time, it had 30 dogs on the premises and the court heard Knox panicked and did not know what to do.

He accepted he could have rung the council to ask but did not.

Knox chose to sell the remaining puppies without a licence and used a neighbour’s name, although receipts were given in the name of Ivy Leaf.

The judge was told Knox had since lost his business, his house and his wife; broken his ankles and was in receipt of Universal Credit.

Knox was sentenced to four months in prison for the offence of giving false information and one month for not having a pet shop licence, with these to be served at the same time. He was given a further four months in prison for breaching a suspended sentence.

Knox was also ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge and was handed the five year ban from operating as a pet shop.

Joanne Waller, the council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, said: “Mr Knox was aware that his premises was no longer licenced and yet continued to sell puppies and to advertise them for sale.

“He also misled customers by advertising using a false identity which potentially resulted in people buying puppies they would not otherwise have bought.

“This prosecution shows the lengths we will go to when laws to protect both consumers and animals are breached and we hope the sentence imposed will send a strong message to anyone who thinks they can operate without the required licences.”