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Gloucestershire councillor admits running illegal puppy breeding farm, court hears

A Conservative councilor in Gloucestershire ran an illegal puppy breeding farm and allegedly passed off a deaf cross-breed dog as a healthy American XL Bully pup, a court heard. Alastair Chambers, 41, bred and sold dogs from his farm in Gloucester, before police raided his home and found more than 25 dogs in tunnels and kennels.

Gloucestershire Magistrates’ Court heard Chambers, who is a Gloucester City Council and Gloucestershire County Council councillor, has admitted two Animal Welfare Act offenses of breeding and selling dogs without a licence. Mark Jackson, prosecuting, told the court that in July 2020 Gloucester City Council received a report from a member of the public alleging unlicensed dog breeding and puppy sales.

After the council wrote to Chambers, the police executed a search warrant and found between 25 to 30 dogs inside three “poly tunnel” style structures. The court heard how the Tory councilor was later warned he must not operate as a dog breeder until he had a license.

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Mr Jackson said: “What is also plain from the unchallenged evidence, is that the defendant was already holding himself out as a dog breeder and was advertising and selling puppies. He was doing so with no dog breeder’s license and no pet shop license.”

Chambers, of Manor Way, Quedgeley, Gloucester, is accused of three fraud charges relating to the sale of a puppy called Casper to Shrece Share. It is alleged Chambers sold the animal after placing an online advert offering for sale an American Bully XL puppy.

He allegedly told her the dog had been vaccinated, giving her a vaccination card from a local vet. Ms Share traveled to Chambers’ home from her to buy the puppy in May 2020.

When she saw the puppy, Ms Share’s boyfriend electronically transferred £2,450 into Chambers’ bank account – with £50 knocked off because the puppy was not microchipped. Mr Jackson said vaccination document purported to be from The Caldicott/Kingsway Veterinary Clinic and the dog had been vaccinated on a Sunday when the practice was closed.

The buyer later discovered the puppy was deaf. As well as this, DNA tests showed it was in fact 75 per cent Staffordshire Bull Terrier, 12.5 per cent Akita and 12.5 per cent Alaskan Malamute.

Mr Jackson said: “The litter were at the defendant’s premises, premises where he was breeding dogs. The prosecution say that representations made to Shrece Share were untrue, they were misleading, and the defendant was acting dishonestly.”

Ms Share told the court she believed she was buying the puppy from Chambers, and he suggested the £50 discount. She said: “His wife of him came out with a bag of dog food and vaccination card and his wife of him handed it to him and said, ‘Is this it?’ and he opened it and said, ‘Yes’ and handed it to me.

“He said the puppy had its health check and had its vaccination at the vets and showed the card and we were happy with that.”

After learning the dog was deaf, her mother spoke with Chambers, and he offered a full refund for return of the animal. Ms Share added: “As an animal lover, there was no way I was returning that dog.”

Giving evidence, Chambers accused the city council of being a “crooked council” for only pursuing a case against him and not others he had named – suggesting no-one was prosecuted for smuggling puppies into the country from Poland. The court heard Chambers had been stopped by UK Border Force officials who found five puppies in the rear of a vehicle he was driving, for which he received a warning from the Kent local authority.

Chambers said Casper belonged to a friend, Shane Smart, and they had bought four puppies from a breeder in Wantage and believed they were American XL Bully dogs. He kept three and Mr Smart sold the other.

“It was a bit embarrassing that Shane owed me money and I knew he was overdrawn, and I knew I wouldn’t get it,” Chambers said. He said the advert was placed by Mr Smart using Mr Smart’s contact details and the vet who vaccinated Casper was a family friend who was on furlough from the veterinary practice at the time.

I have explained: “I have posted illegal adverts before and after, why would I do this? It’s absolutely ridiculous. “I am going to… the council is corrupt… after this case, I am going to say everything.”

At one point, District Judge Nicholas Wattam had to interrupt, telling the defendant: “Mr Chambers you are ranting, stop it.” Under further cross-examination, Chambers said: “Verging on perverse… you’ll have to ask the question again, I am really upset… really perverse.”

The judge then adjourned for a short break to allow Chambers to compose himself. At the conclusion of the evidence, the judge said he would give his verdict on the three charges on June 30.

Chambers is a member of both Gloucester City Council and Gloucestershire County Council, and was elected last year to represent the Matson and Robinswood areas for the Conservative Party. He currently sits as an independent member of both councils.

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