A ROGUE animal trader living in Weymouth unlawfully imported puppies and falsely claimed they were rabies-free to customers.

Peter Graham Harman ran two fraudulent puppy-selling businesses - namely for the sale of unlawfully imported cropped and docked puppies from Serbia, according to trading standard bosses at Dorset Council.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard how the 38-year-old ran a fraudulent business between February 8, 2017 and March 23 last year.

Harman, who currently resides in an unnamed Weymouth hotel admitted misleading customers through false advertisement and the sale of cropped and docked Doberman and Cane Corso puppies between May 24 and June 26, 2018.

He also admitted knowingly and intently evading the provisions of rabies for 25 Doberman puppies between the dates May 25 and July 12, 2018.

On multiple occasions Harman deliberately provided false information of the delivery location of Doberman puppies between May 1 and July 7, 2019.

Harman committed the offences while running his businesses UK Dobermans and UK Cane Corsos, which were based in Shaftesbury.

Ivan Hancock, service manager for Trading Standards at Dorset Council, said: "Our Trading Standards team work with other agencies such as the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

"We ensure pet animals brought into the country adhere to the strict rules in place to make sure they are fit and healthy - and do not pose a risk of introducing diseases to the UK.

"These rules include the rabies controls which were breached numerous times in this case, and over a considerable time period.

"Some countries, such as Serbia, are not classed as rabies-free and so to import animals from these countries there are strict quarantine procedures to follow and Harman has sought to avoid these.

"Having circumvented the import controls on these puppies he has then gone on to mislead buyers, as to the history and transport of these animals, all of which amounts to his guilt as operator of a fraudulent business over a three year period."

Harman was granted unconditional bail and will next appear at Bournemouth Crown Court on May 27 for sentencing.