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Press Release March 2010

Council wins praise for prosecuting a pet dealer for selling a goldfish to a child

The Animal Protection Agency (APA) has praised Trafford Council for bringing a prosecution against Joan Higgins of Major's Pet Shop in Sale, Greater Manchester for selling a goldfish to a 14-year old boy and for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. The Agency calls on other councils to follow their example and take action against pet dealers who are known to routinely break the law.

The tabloid media claimed that Mrs Higgins, who received a £1,000 fine and an electronic tag, only expected a 'slap on the wrist' for the offences. Unfortunately, according to the APA, this level of complacency and disregard for the law is rife amongst pet dealers and greater scrutiny of pet shops is desperately needed. The sensationalist media response portrayed Mrs Higgins as a poor victim, who - due to her tagging - would be unable to attend nights out at the bingo hall for the next seven weeks! Little or no mention was made of the fact that she was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a cockatiel.

The bird was found on the shop floor in a distressed state with a broken leg and eye problems, and sadly had to be euthanased. Although the council's licence conditions clearly state that there must be 24-hour veterinary cover for the shop, Mrs Higgins had failed to seek any veterinary treatment for the bird and allowed it to suffer.

The APA has commended Trafford Council officers for their vigilance. The officers launched an investigation following an unsubstantiated complaint regarding the sale of a gerbil by Major's Pet Shop to a child with learning difficulties. The gerbil later died after it had apparently been placed in a disposable coffee cup with a lid on top. It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to sell pets to anyone under the age of 16 unless accompanied by an adult.

Said Animal Protection Agency spokesperson, Elaine Toland:

"It's unfortunate, in this case, that the pet shop licence was not rescinded, as there are now serious doubts over the fitness of Joan Higgins to run a pet shop. She says that in future she will check customers' ID but let's hope that she also takes better care of her animals"

Issued 31 March 2010

Animal Protection Agency
Brighton Media Centre
15-17 Middle Street

Tel: 01273 674253
Fax: 01273 674927
Mobile: 07986 535024