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Puppy seller jailed for animal welfare offences
One of the puppies seized by the RSPCA at Mr O'Donnell's address.

Man made at least £7,000 from selling illegally-imported dogs
 
A puppy seller has been jailed and banned from keeping dogs for life after pleading guilty to selling sick and dying puppies.

Martin O’Donnell received two years and eight months in jail after admitting to five counts of fraud and one count of failing to meet the needs of dogs.

His sentence comes more than a year after the RSPCA started gathering intelligence and evidence on puppy dealing in the London area.

“We were aware that there was a serious problem with the sale of poorly puppies in the capital and had been following leads for a number of months,” explained Inspector Kirsty Withnall, who led the investigation.
 
“Our investigations led us to puppy buyers who had purchased dogs from the address in Mottingham Road. We spoke with five people who had all bought Labrador pups from the defendant in November and December 2016 - all of which had fallen ill and one sadly died of parvovirus.”
 
She continued: “These dogs were being imported - we suspect illegally from southern Ireland - and being advertised online as home-bred, socialised and healthy dogs. The reality was far from this. They were weak, poorly and terrified.”

Mr O’Donnell told the court that he'd made at least £7,000 from the sale of puppies. However, RSPCA inspectors think this figure could be much higher. The court learnt that Mr O’Donnell had multiple phone numbers and email addresses “to deceive the public”.

“These people are calculating criminals who put money ahead of the health and welfare of dogs,” Inspector Withnall added. “Unfortunately, it is becoming more difficult to differentiate between legitimate, responsible breeders and unscrupulous sellers so we would urge anyone looking for a puppy to be incredibly careful, do lots of research and, if they have concerns, to walk away and report it to our cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.”

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Survey seeks to learn about racehorse aftercare

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 The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is launching a survey to improve understanding of aftercare for thoroughbreds. The survey has been emailed to trainers, who are asked to share their own experiences, with a focus on life after horses finish their racing careers. It forms part of an equine health and welfare strategy being developed by the BHA. 

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Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has appointed the actor Anthony Head and renowned canine behaviourist, Sarah Fisher, as official ambassadors. They join existing ambassadors Paul O’Grady, Amanda Holden, David Gandy and Jacqueline Wilson.

Anthony is best known for his roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Iron Lady and Girlfriends. He has previously lent his voice to Battersea’s videos and appeals, as well as performing readings at the charity’s Christmas Carol Concert and Collars & Coats Gala Ball.

Meanwhile Sarah has worked across all three of the charity’s centres, offering advice in dealing with a variety of complex and challenging dogs. She has also fostered several Battersea animals and trained many members of staff in using the Tellington Touch method of training, to keep dogs calm and relaxed.