Milestone: Puppy Traders get prison sentence
On 6 March 2014, the regional court of Vienna for criminal affairs decided against an Austrian couple who illegally traded in puppies. FOUR PAWS regards this as a real “milestone” in the history of animal welfare. “We are very enthusiastic that the court not only took the trade fraud into consideration, but also the abuse of the animals”, says Gabriel Paun, Director of Campaigns at FOUR PAWS.
Both defendants were convicted to two years of confinement, thereof eight months without probation. The sentence is not valid, the defending lawyer asked for three days time of consideration.
The trial had been adjourned before several times. Based on an information given by FOUR PAWS the police could convict the puppy traders at the end of 2012. The couple had sold puppies from Slovakia that were far too young with faked vaccination certificates: All of the animals were severely ill, some of them even died.
Paun: „The court realised that this is not only a matter of consumer fraud. The convicted set up a dirty business at the expense of the animals. Not only the puppies are suffering, but also the mother animals, who are abused their entire lives as puppy machines. Illegal puppy trade is no trivial offence. In this respect this is a victory for justness and a great day for animal welfare.”
An aggravating factor for the court was the fact that the defendant has again traded with puppies during the still pending case. Two witnesses stated, that they had responded to an internet ad placed by the defendant in January 2014, where he had offered Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppies. When meeting the defendant he had a dog in his car that made, according to the witness, a “dull and faint impression”. The witness consequently pressed charges at the veterinary authority of the City of Vienna.
For FOUR PAWS, this verdict is very important because of its signal effect. “If this business is getting too risky, because the traders don’t get away with small fines but have to face prison sentences, the puppy mafia will eventually lose ground”, says Paun.
A similar case took place in Luxembourg last year, but in the end the illegal puppy trader was only accused of illegal trade in court, the animal abuse was not addressed. For years the defendant smuggled puppies, which were ill and far too young, from the Czech Republic to Luxembourg and sold them with false documents. He didn’t attend the hearing in November 2013, the trial was postponed.
FOUR PAWS is conducting an international campaign against the illegal puppy trade and campaigns for a responsible ownership of cats and dogs with projects like CAROdog /CAROcat (Companion Animal Responsible Ownership).
For more information, please consult:
- FOUR PAWS' campaign website against Illegal Puppy Trade: www.stoppuppytraders.org
- and our expert platform on responsible dog ownership: www.carodog.eu