Puppy breeder sentenced to nine months and life ban

A North-east man who intensively bred hundreds of puppies at an Aberdeenshire farm has been sentenced to nine months in prison and disqualified from owning or keeping dogs, rabbits or ferrets for life.

Frank James was found to be running what was believed to be Scotland’s largest puppy farm following a raid and investigation by the Scottish SPCA. When delivering the verdict, the sheriff described him as ‘selfish and cruel beyond belief’.

James, 53, of Duncan Street, Banff, was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs, ferrets and rabbits under Section 19 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 last month. He was also found guilty under Section 24 for failing to ensure the welfare of the same animals at Aberdeen Sheriff Court (Friday 19 July). He was given a sentence of nine months for the first charge and four months for the second charge - they will run concurrently.

A co-accused, Michelle Wood, 29, of Berrymuir Road, Macduff, was also sentenced to 300 hours of community service and disqualified from keeping or owning dogs, rabbits or ferrets for ten years. Wood has been told she will be restricted to her home address between 7pm and 7am for the next six months. On sentencing, the court advised James he could keep two of his own pets and Wood that she could keep four of her own pets.

Reacting to the verdict, Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “The Scottish SPCA has been picking up the pieces from Frank James’ greed-driven puppy farming operation for several years and we welcome the court’s judgement that his offences merit a jail sentence. Across two raids at the same address, we’ve seized over 150 dogs.

“His disregard for the welfare of animals under his care shows he is devoid of any empathy towards them and, when he is released from jail, we hope he is never in a positon to own or sell animals again. He clearly flouted his previous ban for animal welfare crimes and would hope to see this ban properly enforced to ensure that does not happen again.

“Following the overwhelmingly positive response to the Scottish Parliament’s public consultation on animal welfare law amendments and harsher sentencing for the worst animal cruelty offences, we would welcome more severe punishments for heartless criminals like Frank James and a greater availability of punishments for the courts to choose from.

“More importantly, a monumental effort from our inspectorate, veterinary experts and rehoming teams has seen these animals find fantastic homes with loving families. We recently reunited many of the dogs at our Glasgow centre and the difference compared to when we seized them was unbelievable.

“Our message to the general public remains the same – if you want a dog, adopt and don’t shop. But if you must buy a puppy, do your homework, visit the Say No to Puppy Dealers website, and make sure you buy from a responsible breeder. The only way puppy farms will disappear, and people like Frank James will stop profiteering at the expense of intensively bred dogs, is if public demand stops.

“Through the UK-wide, multi-agency Operation Delphin group, we’ll continue to work with partners to disrupt the puppy trade.”