The first planned reptile market this year – and one of only a handful of remaining markets of its kind in the UK - has been cancelled. The event, due to take place today (12 May 2012) at the Castle Green Sports Centre in Dagenham would have involved illegal wild animal dealing but thanks to a tip off from the Animal Protection Agency (APA), and the work of conscientious Council officials, the event will not now be taking place.
APA was advised by Barking & Dagenham Council Licensing Section that the event had been booked as an animal exhibition but APA informed the Council that a primary purpose of these events is to trade in animals. A recent independent scientific study into exotic pet markets found that these types of ‘shows’ were fundamentally commercial in nature and that the conditions and treatment for most animals was ‘tantamount to animal abuse’.
Trading in pet animals at markets stalls was banned in a 1983 amendment to the Pet Animals Act 1951. However, in an attempt to escape the attention of council inspectors, reptile market organisers often misdescribe their events as ‘shows’ or ‘breeders meetings’. Once Barking & Dagenham Council had reminded organisers, in no uncertain terms, that no animal trading whatsoever would be permitted and that enforcement action would be taken against offenders, the event was cancelled.
Said Elaine Toland, Director of the Animal Protection Agency:
“Barking & Dagenham Council is in concert with many other local authorities and is setting another positive example for all councils to follow. Hundreds, if not thousands, of animals have been spared the suffering they would have endured by being boxed up for prolonged periods in takeaway meal containers. Thanks to astute Council officials, the law protecting these animals has been upheld.”
In their letter to the Council, APA also highlighted the public health risks associated with the close proximity of people to captive exotic animals and the post-event contamination of the venue.
The recently published independent scientific report on Amphibian and Reptile Pet Markets in the EU, jointly commissioned by APA, is available to download from www.apa.org.uk