A woman who was convicted of illegally importing puppies has been arrested in Spain and is to appear in court back in the UK. She had fled abroad to avoid being jailed.
Laura Kiseliova of Salford and Bury had already been sentenced to four years jail in her absence after being convicted of importing puppies too young to travel from Eastern Europe and falsely claiming they had been bred in the UK.
She was convicted on 10 charges, including failing to tell buyers that dogs were not bred in the UK, falsely claiming they were Kennel Club registered, trying to restrict consumer rights, failing to protect animals from suffering and making false insurance claims relating to a dog which died.
Her co-defendant Raimondas Titas was also convicted and sentenced to three years and a half in jail. He remains at large. Both defendants were banned for life from keeping animals and disqualified as company directors for 15 years.
Salford City Council’s trading standards team was alerted to the issue by colleagues in Kent who twice stopped the couple importing dogs at ports in the county. A local vet also raised concerns about a puppy sold in Salford which had an Eastern European microchip.
The team brought together trading standards officers from Bury, the RSPCA, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and police to raid two houses in Salford and one in Prestwich. The Prestwich raid, in November 2013, saw 41 dogs and puppies and eight cats and kittens removed from the property and two people arrested and bailed on suspicion of operating as dog breeders and sellers without proper licences.
It then took trading standards officers over a year to interview defendants, consumers, businesses, advertising and insurance companies and collect evidence to bring the consumer protection charges.
Laura Kiseliova and Raimondas Titas were charged with multiple offences under the Fraud Act, Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, Companies Act 2006 and Animal Welfare Act involving hundreds of dogs and cats.
The court heard that the fraud went on for 20 months with Kiseliova described as the leader. They made 680 sales generating between £230,000 and over £300,000 with no regard for the welfare of the animals, the risk of introducing diseases to the UK or the emotional distress of buyers whose pets subsequently died.
Councillor David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety, at Salford City Council, said: “I am delighted she is back to face justice and pay for her crimes. Kiseliova risked importing diseases with the animals she traded so callously as well as defrauding customers and causing them distress.”