#TheList Laura Kiseliova, born 14/06/1979, and Raimondas Titas, born 13/03/1981, formerly of Ladywell Avenue, Manchester M38, but believed to have fled to their native Lithuania – imported and sold sick ‘designer’ pets
Lithuanians Laura Kiseliova and Raimondas Titas kept sick dogs and cats in filthy, cramped cages to sell for thousands of pounds.
They set up an online “puppy farm” called Pets313 and encouraged customers to buy popular breeds like pugs and french bulldogs.
However, when customers went to the couple’s house in Salford, Greater Manchester they were quickly persuaded to take the pets home, unaware that the canines hadn’t received vital injections or veterinary care.
And when they arrived home, the dogs suddenly became ill and lethargic after having been kept in dire conditions in small cages or crates in a garage.
Despite buyers being told they were receiving British-bred pups, they were actually getting Eastern European dogs that had travelled over to the UK on a Pet Passport bought by the Lithuanian couple.
The pair were sentenced to years behind bars at Manchester Crown Court in their absence, as they fled abroad before the hearing on Thursday 13/12/2018.
They had previously pleaded guilty to a total of 29 charges, including several animal welfare offences.
RSPCA inspectors, police and trading standards found 41 dogs and eight cats when they searched their previous home in Prestwich on November 18, 2013.
They discovered the pair were trafficking dogs under the pet passport scheme, and selling them to members of the public under the company name Pets 313 Ltd.
Officers also found more than 40 pet passports which didn’t match the dogs at the property, suggesting they were passing off trafficked dogs as those bred in the UK.
The dogs who were found included French bulldogs and pugs, as well as pedigree cats, which were being sold for between £800 and £1,000 each.
The pair were charged with a number of offences, including failing to provide them with a suitable environment, and failing to provide veterinary care.
One of the RSPCA investigators leading the operation, who didn’t want to be named, said: “The front room of the property was being used to sell the animals to members of the public but it was when you entered the rest of the house the scale of this operation became apparent.
“There were cages and pens containing different breeds of dogs in almost every room including a litter of puppies in a filthy ensuite bathroom upstairs. In a large garage at the back we found cages of animals stacked on top of each other.
“It was clear there were some cats and puppies that needed immediate veterinary treatment and sadly two of the puppies that were rushed to the vets for treatment later died from parvovirus.
“There was little sign of proper isolation pens for sick animals or biosecurity measures meaning any animal that passed through this place would be at risk of catching and spreading diseases and parasites.
“This was a large money-making operation at the expense of the welfare of the animals and the unsuspecting members of public who thought they were buying healthy, happy puppies.”
RSPCA SOU Chief Insp Ian Briggs said: “It was obvious that this duo were dealing and trading in a large number of animals and that many of them were not receiving the appropriate care and veterinary attention they needed.
“Some of the animals were suffering from problems such as conjunctivitis, gastroenteritis or had sore and infected wounds.”
Most of the animals have been signed over into RSPCA care and have been rehomed.
Chief Insp Briggs added: “We have seen a concerning increase in the number of calls we are receiving about large-scale traders dealing, predominantly, in puppies.
“We are regularly appalled by the conditions we find puppies living in and the stories we hear from owners who have, just days after bringing their puppy home, held their new dog as he died in their arms from preventable diseases and infections.
“Unfortunately, a major factor in this trade is traffickers – such as this pair – bringing in poorly pups from abroad, without the right vaccinations and documents, and selling them to unsuspecting buyers here in England.”
Kiseliova was sentenced to a total of four years in prison while Titas was jailed for three years and six months. Both were banned from keeping pets for life.