A pair of 'distinguished' dog-breeders were ordered to pay a massive £400,000 ($546,000) by a judge for forcing animals to keep getting pregnant to cash in on the pet boom.
Married Karl and Victoria Shellard set up the unlicensed business called 'PosherBulls' at their country home selling pups for up to £20,000 ($27k) a time.
The wealthy pair were 'extremely profitable' by cashing in on rising demand for dogs especially during lockdown by force-breeding animals then putting cute puppy pictures online.
Now it has emerged that they were actually forcing breeding bitches to deliver more than one litter a year - breaking animals welfare laws.
Karl, 43, and Victoria, 40, were both fined £19,000 ($25,800) and were ordered to pay back £372,531 ($507,480) - or face two years in prison.
They were also ordered to pay court costs of £43,775 ($59,600).
A court heard the couple bred at least 67 litters over six years - with one dog named Coco delivering six litters within a four-year period.
The pair made up to £372,000 selling bulldog pups to customers through ads on a website and social media - and have more than £1m in assets.
Cardiff Crown Court heard the pair were repeatedly told to apply for a license from Vale of Glamorgan council but ignored the authorities.
Prosecutor Tim Evans said the Shellards claimed to be 'experienced breeders' and 'leaders in distinguished Bulldogs of all colours'.
The court was told how the couple were first visited by animal welfare officers in January 2018 and told they needed to apply for a breeder's licence.
Their four-bedroom detached home in Bonvilston, South Wales, was then raided in December 2019 - along with two other properties connected with the business.
Investigators found 20 dogs in an outbuilding at their home with a laboratory with microscopes and equipment for collecting semen and taking blood.
Officers also found a signed part-completed Breeder Licence Application Form which had never been sent off.
The court heard 24 dogs were found at a nearby property while six dogs were discovered at a building 15 miles away.
Mr Evans said: "Despite these obvious works to facilitate their dog breeding business they failed to apply for a breeding licence until January 2020.
"That was two weeks after the execution of a warrant at the premises and almost two years after being told that a licence was necessary."
Karl Shellard claimed he had not sent off the licence application because they were trying to sell their home and would need to change the address.
He admitted practising dog breeding for six years despite not having a licence.
Mum-of-three Victoria said they would sell puppies for anything between £1,500 and £20,000.
The pair admitted back to back breeding - where dogs had delivered more than one litter in a 12-month period.
The court heard the crimes took place between 2014 and 2020 - with information on C-sections showing 43 litters had been delivered in just one year.
Mr Evans said: "Irrespective of the absence of a breeder’s licence, it an animal welfare offence as the recovery from a C-section takes many months and the Shellards were artificially inseminating these dogs long before they were healthy enough to undergo a pregnancy and subsequent C-section again.
"This was a positive decision to breed the animals in that way."
A vet inspection was carried out in February last year after the couple officially applied for breeding licence.
But it was not granted due to poorly-managed health issues, unfit accommodation and lack of space for dogs, a lack of understanding the guidelines and poor isolation facilities for unvaccinated dogs.
The pair pleaded guilty to breeding dogs without a licence and nine counts of failing to ensure the needs of a protected animal for which they were responsible.
Investigations under the Proceeds of Crime Act revealed they made £372,531 illegally but had available assets of £1,041,714.
Defending Heath Edwards said the business became 'nationally and internationally recognised' for the quality of the dogs which were 'healthy and of unquestionable pedigree'.
Despite this, Judge David Wynn Morgan told the couple: "You were running a puppy farm and doing it to make money, and you made a great deal of money indeed.
"You could have run an extremely profitable business if you were properly registered but you're going to pay the price for that folly."
The couple have three months to pay or receive 24 months in prison.
Featured Image Credit: Wales News Service