A MOBILE vet, operating from Prestwich, has been sentenced after admitting to illegally importing puppies to the UK.

Viktor Molnar, aged 58, from Hungary pleaded guilty to bringing in five miniature 'teacup' dachshund puppies, by-passing rabies laws and running an illegal pet shop from his home in Belroy Court, Prestwich.

The conviction follows an investigation by Bury Licensing Service after retired teacher Mary McFarlane, from Paisley, had travelled to Prestwich and purchased a miniature dachshund puppy, Janet, from Molnar for £700.

The puppy was then sick on her way home prompting her to request a copy of Janet's pet passport.

Mrs McFarlane took the puppy to Abbey Veterinary Group in Paisley where the dog was estimated to be aged just eight to 12 weeks, much younger than the age on the vaccination card, and too young to be legally imported to the UK.

The card also showed no record of rabies vaccinations or multi-headed tapeworm treatment.

Renfrewshire Council was then contacted and the puppy placed in quarantine, before information and documents were passed to Bury Council.

An inspection at Molnar's flat was carried out by Animal Health inspector Sandra Coombes on February 26, and five puppies and four adult dogs were found.

Ms Coombes was told that the puppies had arrived the night before, and had Hungarian issues pet passports, after Molnar purchased them online.

After contacting a nearby vet she was similarly told that the puppies were under 12 weeks old, and not 17 weeks as the passports said, and they were placed in quarantine.

Molnar, now living in Kent, was sentenced to a 270-hour Community Order and disqualified from operating a pet shop or boarding establishment for 10 years, at Manchester Magistrates Court, yesterday.

He was also ordered to pay £2,686.93 to Ms McFarlane to cover purchase and quarantine costs, and to pay £2,500 towards prosecution costs.

Prosecutor Malcolm Hope told the court that there had been an increase of 761% in the number of puppies brought into the UK from Hungary since the introduction of the Pet Travel Scheme in 2011 .

He also cited research by Dogs Trust which found reports of vets in Eastern Europe falsifying passports.

Angela Lomax, head of trading standards and licensing at Bury Council, said: “Young puppies should never be transported long distances into the UK, yet underage and unvaccinated puppies continue to be illegally sent here from abroad – often in appalling conditions - and are destined to be sold via online adverts to unsuspecting members of the public.”

She advised prospective dog owners to buy only from licensed breeders and pet shops, and to see the dog’s mother interacting with the puppy in the environment it is born into.

Councillor Judith Kelly, cabinet member for corporate affairs and regulatory services, said: “This case not only shows a blatant disregard for the law, but Molnar put the local community as well as purchasers nationwide at serious risk of the spread of rabies by illegally importing the dogs.

“Unsuspecting buyers like Mrs McFarlane are also victims, as they may have the heartache of receiving and caring for a very sick dog, as well as unplanned quarantine and vet’s costs.

“Hopefully this sends out a strong message to anyone thinking of acting illegally that they will be caught and prosecuted.”

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, with whom Molnar was registered, will be contacted over his fitness to continue practising as a vet.