An Uxbridge vet has been convicted of helping a puppy farming gang to sell illegally bred puppies by issuing fake health cards and vaccination certificates for more than 4,500 dogs.
A jurly unanimously ruled on Monday (April 9) that Doherty, of Wood Lane, in Iver Heath, had conspired with Simon O’Donnell, Thomas O’Donnell, Thomas Stokes and Edward Stokes, all from Hayes , to commit fraud.
Between December 2013 and February 2017, the 49-year-old vet gave falsified paperwork for thousands of puppies sold across the south east.
Doherty pocketed cash-in-hand payments from the puppy farming gang who made millions selling sick and dying puppies to unsuspecting members of the public.
The buyers were told the dogs were offspring of a family pet, home-bred, and socialised within a local residential family environment.
In actual fact, the puppies were farmed or imported and many died from diseases such as parvovirus, which they had supposedly been vaccinated for by Doherty.
RSPCA inspector Kirsty Withnall, who led the investigation into Doherty’s involvement with the gang, said: “This was a vet who should have known better and should have had the animals’ best interests at heart.
“But he was supplementing his income with fraudulent cash from the puppy trading gang who were making millions from selling sick and dying puppies to unsuspected members of the public.
“Doherty was knowingly signing off vaccination cards and veterinary paperwork for thousands of puppies in the gang members’ real names as well as approving the paperwork that was written out in their fake aliases.
“He was complicit and, if anything, aided their fraud because any buyers who purchased puppies from the gang may well have been comforted and reassured by the fact that the dog they were buying had paperwork to say it had already been to a vet for vaccinations and health checks.
“The problem is that the puppies had not been adequately checked so some were already harbouring illnesses by the time they were sold.”
The RSPCA believes 4,689 puppies were taken by the gang to MyVet 24/7 for their first vaccinations.
Doherty charged the gang a discounted £16 fee per vaccine and flea/worming treatment, working out to £75,000 ending up in his pocket.
At the trial it emerged that a previous employee of Doherty had voiced concerns against him, and a separate complaint was sent to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons by a Hertfordshire vet.
Other people implicated in the RSPCA investigation:
- Simon O’Donnell, 30 of Bradenham Road, Hayes, will be sentenced after admitting one offence of conspiracy to commit fraud, three animal welfare offences and one offence of running a pet shop without a licence;
- Margaret McDonagh, 27 of Bradenham Road, Hayes, will be sentenced having admitted three fraud offences;
- Edward Stokes, 36 of Rosedale Avenue, Hayes, and later of Tenaplas Drive, Upper Basildon in Berkshire, will be sentenced having admitted one conspiracy to commit fraud offence and one animal welfare offence;
- Thomas Stokes, 25 of of Coldharbour Lane, Hayes, will be sentenced having pleaded guilty to one conspiracy to commit fraud offence and one animal welfare offence;
- Thomas O’Donnell, 29 of Bedwell Gardens, Hayes, will be sentenced having previous admitted four offences of fraud and three animal welfare offences;
- Mary Teresa Stokes, 34 of Rosedale Avenue, Hayes, was sentenced at a previous hearing at Isleworth Crown Court on 7 September 2017 having pleaded guilty to one offence of failing to meet the needs of dogs. She was given a 12-month conditional discharge, disqualified from keeping dogs for five years, and ordered to pay £250 in costs.
A further two women were given adult written cautions and criminal behaviour orders.
Doherty will return to Isleworth Crown Court in May to face sentencing, along with the other members of the puppy gang.