BOSSES from a dog welfare group behind the world-famous Crufts have stressed the importance of breeding regulations after a Hampshire mother and daughter were caught running an illegal puppy farm.

Kennel Club chiefs have also urged potential puppy buyers to “do the proper research” before parting with their cash.

It comes after two Hampshire women were ordered to pay more than £600,000 after admitting breeding puppies without a licence.

Lucinda and Victoria Rolph advertised more than 190 litters of puppies for sale, as well as adult dogs, with some priced at £1,500 each.

Experts say if all the dogs were sold as advertised, the pair could have fetched up to £1.5 million between 2013 and 2018.

But the pair appeared in court after demands to purchase a £265 licence for their operation had been ignored.

A court heard there had “never been any suggestion of mistreatment” of the animals.

Commenting on the case, Ed Hayes, Public Affairs and Policy Manager at the Kennel Club said: “This case highlights the lengths people will go to avoid licensing.

“Responsible breeders should also be keeping tax and business records so they can show their breeding activities are within the law.

“If they are not adhering to regulations, the local authorities have the power to prosecute.

“Ultimately, it is imperative that bad breeders are exposed, and good breeders are easily identifiable.

“We would urge anyone looking to buy a puppy to do the proper research beforehand and always go to a responsible breeder.”

Lucinda Rolph, of Alma Lane, Upham, was ordered to pay £601,700 within a three month period of face a five year prison sentence in default.

She was also ordered to pay costs of £20,000.

Victoria Rolph, 30, also of Alma Lane, Upham, was ordered to pay £14,950 within a three month period of face six month in prison in default.

Both women, who each admitted one count of running an unlicensed dog breeding farm, were ordered to do 60 hours of unpaid work.

The court heard how licensing chiefs visited Lucinda Rolph’s £600,000 farm, near Fair Oak, and warned her that she needed a licence for the commercial breeding of dogs.

However Southampton Crown Court heard that the pair continued to advertise dogs and puppies for sale, sometimes under different names, without a licence.

They came to the attention of licensing chiefs again after a miniature Dachshund they sold died weeks later of Canine parvovirus – which can be prevented through vaccinations.

The court heard the farm was housed at 52-year-old Lucinda Rolph’s property in Alma Lane, Upham, between 2013 and 2018.

Prosecutor Ethu Crorie said the pair would advertise puppies and adult dogs for sale online via Pets4Homes and Preloved.

Mr Crorie told the court that the pair advertised 38 different breeds, with prices ranging from £500 to £1,500 per animal.

He told the court the pair had several accounts in their own names and 18 with other people’s names – some of whom they knew and were unaware that their name was being used.

Mr Crorie said that if every dog had sold as advertised and none of the adverts were duplicated, the pair could have been paid as much as £1.5 million pound.

He told the court that a warrant was carried out at the puppy farm in May 2015 and licensing officers found litters of puppies as well as adult dogs.

Mr Crorie added there was no records of sales or receipts and the pair did not have any tax records.

In mitigation, Jonathan Underhill said that both Rolphs stressed that there had “never been any suggestion of mistreatment” of the animals.

Mr Underhill said: “But for the licence the whole operation would have been legal.”

He said that a licence for dog breeding from Winchester City Council cost £265.

Mr Underhill added that legislation for dog breeding had recently changed, limiting the punishment for such offences to a fine, and urged Judge Peter Henry to limit the number of unpaid hours the pair faced.

In sentencing, Judge Henry said: “Lucinda Rolph was warned of the need for having a licence in 2015.

“She said at that stage she was thinking about giving everything up.

“She was well aware a licence was required.

“She kept no records of this lucrative business and they used fake names to hide the fact they were still selling adult and puppies during this period.”