An EBBW Vale pet shop owner has been ordered to pay almost £ 15,000 for misleading customers when selling puppies.
Jayne Bowerman, 60, of Tyr Meddyg, pleaded guilty to nine offenses in Newport Magistrates’ Court, following an investigation into her pet store by the Blaenau Gwent Trading Standards Service.
Hayley Hawkins, representing the Blaenau Gwent Council, said Bowerman had advertised and sold puppies giving the impression that she was a private breeder, when in fact the business she owned jointly with her husband – Tyr Meddyg Pups – was a commercial pet store, and she did not disclose that she was not the owner of the mother mentioned in the ads.
Bowerman had concealed the identity of the company during the advertisement, often using fake names and contact addresses when posting ads on websites such as Freeads.co.uk – strictly prohibited for pet stores to advertise, Ms. Hawkins said.
Trading Standards has received a number of complaints – dating back to June 2019 – from customers who felt misled because they thought they were buying from a private breeder and expected to be able to see the dam.
Many complainants said they would not have contacted the seller after seeing the ads if they had known the business was a licensed pet store.
Richard Crook, Corporate Director for Public Protection at Blaenau Gwent City Council, said: “Advertisements should provide potential customers with clear and precise information about the product, in this case an animal, sold and the type. or the nature of the business offering the pet for sale.
“The Trading Standards investigation revealed that Bowerman failed to do this and deliberately misled clients.”
Patrick Smith, defending, told the court that since Bowerman learned of the investigation, she had stopped advertising.
He also claimed that the company had received threats and intimidation and explained that there had also been instances where his client’s ads had been cloned and replicated.
Bowerman pleaded guilty to a total of eight counts of merchant engaging in unfair business practices and count of merchant engaging in business practice which constitutes a deceptive omission.
She was ordered to pay a total fine of £ 4,500 and costs £ 10,000, as well as a victim fine surcharge of £ 181.
Cllr Joanna Wilkins, Executive Member for Environment on the Blaenau Gwent Board, said: “This was a long and difficult investigation into trade standards in which victims were misled by the practices of Bowerman.
“The case illustrates the importance for puppy buyers to know the origin and home environment of the animal they are buying.
“The Tyr Meddyg company broke the rules and advertised under fake names, masquerading as private breeders on advertising platforms.
Fortunately Lucy’s Law was passed into law in Wales on September 10th, and it is now illegal to sell puppies or kittens unless sold by the original breeder.
“This will provide better protection for customers and combat third party sales that are often related to puppy breeding.”