Woman Sold Illegally Farmed Puppies from Wimbledon Flat

Louise St John Poulton passed off sick animals as 'designer dogs'

Several sick and mistreated puppies were found at Wimbledon flat
Several sick and mistreated puppies were found at Wimbledon flat. Picture: RSPCA

A 48-year-old woman remains on the run after receiving a jail sentence for running a criminal enterprise importing and selling puppies, many of whom were sick, and passing them off as valuable ‘designer dogs’ such as cockerpoos and cavachons.

Louise St John Poulton, who also uses the alias Phoebe Dobbs, used a flat in Wimbledon to sell the dogs according to 38 people who testified against her.

Poulton, who used to live in St Albans but now resides in Spain, was tried in her absence last month after entering a not guilty plea at an earlier hearing.

RSPCA officers launched an investigation in 2017 following a number of complaints from families who had bought puppies from her.

Vikki Dawe, from the RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit, led the investigation. She said, “Poulton and an accomplice worked together to buy in, advertise and sell on puppies which were considered valuable in the market.

“Over a period of between six months to a year, 59 adverts were placed that we’ve been able to connect to the duo. Each advert included an average of seven puppies - so that’s a total of more than 400 dogs.

“Poulton is believed to have defrauded the public out of £300,000 by selling these puppies to them as if they were family-bred, home-grown dogs of specific breeds when, in fact, they were neither.”

When police executed a warrant at the Wimbledon address, as part of the RSPCA investigation, on 18 July 2017, they found two adult dogs and six puppies - all of different breeds and ages - inside.

Animals found in Wimbledon during RSPCA raid.
Animals found in Wimbledon during RSPCA raid. Picture: RSPCA

On 18 October 2017, police and the RSPCA executed a warrant at Poulton’s address, two other properties in Finchley, London, and another related property.

Mobile phones removed during both raids showed text messages between Poulton and a second woman discussing how to advertise puppies and which breeds to advertise them as - in order to maximise profits.

“We know that Poulton and her accomplice were deliberately misleading the public in order to capitalise on the popularity - and value - of specific breeds by falsely describing puppies as cockerpoos and cavachons,” inspector Dawe explained.

“One witness bought two dogs - both sold as cockerpoos - from the same litter. Now they’re fully grown one is a liver-coloured spaniel and the other is a little, white bichon frise-type.

“Some of the puppies they sold were also very sick and were carrying nasty diseases. One of the pups sadly went on to die.

“Although they were telling prospective buyers that they had been homebred - even using a male dog as a fake mum - many of the dogs had in fact been imported to be sold on.”

Poulton was sentenced in her absence on 17 October to three years and four months in prison, with an additional four months - to run consecutively - for breaching a previous suspended sentence.

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November 7, 2022