North West Kent puppy farm ring members Wally Beaney, 39, his wife Maria Smith, 35, her mother Louise Smith, 64, and Charlotte Byron, 36, all of Meopham, Gravesend, and Byron’s mother Deborah Lampard (aka Deborah Kirsch), 60, of Vigo, Gravesend – kept dozens of dogs in horrific conditions and sold gravely ill and dying dogs to buyers.
All members of the gang, apart from Debbie Lampard, received prison sentences on 25th January 2024 after duping the public and showing ‘cruelty and neglectful behaviour’ that led to the death of multiple dogs.
Woolwich Crown Court heard that, in one instance, three Golden Retriever puppies, all purchased from Byron’s address in Kent in July 2021, died within four days of being purchased.
The gang reaped considerable financial benefit by repeatedly breeding dogs, while failing to provide appropriate medical care.
A joint police and RSPCA probe was launched after people who purchased the sick dogs raised the alarm.
Some of the puppies had been poorly with parvo virus – a highly contagious and often fatal illness – and had died within days of being taken to their new home.
During a raid on three properties in Kent in October 2021 over 30 puppies were recovered.
A vet described the puppies’ living conditions as ‘dark and smelly’, with three puppies requiring ‘urgent’ veterinary attention.
Many adult dogs were also found in the garden of the raided properties – including two pregnant dogs who were riddled with parasites and dental issues.
A vet who examined the case said in a statement ‘This suggests that the seller knew a litter mate was sick at the time of their sale. Yet the other puppy purchasers were not notified, either at purchase that a litter mate was unwell or that a litter mate became unwell’.
Phones containing enquiries from people about purchasing the puppies were also seized during the search.
RSPCA inspector Vikki Dawe said: ‘These dogs were all being kept in horrible conditions with very poor care which did not remotely reflect the expectations of buyers who saw the adverts placed for them.’
They demonstrated cruelty and neglectful behaviour that ultimately led to numerous animals losing their lives unnecessarily
In one instance, three Golden Retriever puppies, all purchased in July 2021 from Charlotte Byron’s address, died within four days of being purchased.
Wally Beaney, a traveller, pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, as well as one charge of conspiracy to commit fraud. Maria Smith pleaded guilty to two offences under Animal Welfare Act 2006, and a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud. Louise Smith pleaded guilty to one offence under Animal Welfare Act 2006 and one charge of conspiracy to commit fraud. Charlotte Byron pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit fraud. Debbie Lampard pleaded guilty to selling puppies without a licence.
Sergeant Darren Walshaw, of Kent Police’s Rural Task Force, said ‘Those convicted reaped considerable financial benefit by repeatedly breeding dogs, all the while failing to provide the animals and their puppies with appropriate medical care, such as worming medication and inoculations’.
Wally Beaney received four and a half years’ immediate custody. Ten year-ban on keeping dogs.
Louise Smith got two years and four months in custody, plus was banned from keeping dogs for five years.
Maria Smith got two years and four months in custody. She was disqualified from keeping dogs for five years.
Charlotte Byron got two years and three months in custody.
Debbie Lampard got an 18-month conditional discharge.