APA: On the wild side
Animal Welfare Species Survival Environmental Impact Commercial Activity Health Threats Controls and Chaos

Press Release June 2012

Wildlife traders face prosecution if Doncaster reptile market goes ahead

A ‘total prohibition on animal sales’ has been imposed by Doncaster Council on a reptile market due to take place on Sunday 17th June 2012 at The Dome. The Council confirmed in writing to APA that the Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust (the venue manager) would advise the event organisers today (12 June) that not a single animal is permitted to be sold at the event or its surroundings e.g. car parks (see Council’s letter below).

Doncaster Council’s actions are in response to evidence submitted by APA. This included the recent major report Amphibian and reptile pet markets in the EU an investigation and assessment 2012 in which three independent and highly respected reptile scientists visited European pet markets (including the Doncaster market). The report found conditions at the market to be ‘tantamount to animal abuse’ and also described the event as commercial, with animal-selling in contravention of the law. The report also considered the event to be a public health hazard.

APA instructed Richard Buxton Environmental Law firm (a legal team with a proven track record in bringing a landmark case to court against Stafford Borough Council for wrongly allowing bird markets) to set out the law regarding carrying on the business of offering for sale or selling animals at markets. The law makes clear that carrying on the business of selling animals as pets from stalls at a market is illegal, and that ‘carrying on a business’ includes not only formalised traders but also anyone who sells animals as pets with a ‘degree of repetition’ (ie offering for sale, selling multiple animals, regular sales or itinerant selling). The Council considered all the facts very carefully and fully agreed with APA and its lawyers that zero sales of animals can be permitted.

Sunday’s event may still proceed as an exhibition only, in which case the Council will ensure that stallholders receive letters informing them that absolutely no animals may be sold. In addition to the Council’s Enforcement Officers who will attend the event if it proceeds to enforce the ‘no selling’ rule, APA will be sending its own team of investigators who will use discrete cameras to record any offering for sale or selling (including in the car parks). Undercover camera operators will enter the premises to monitor and record any animal sales of any nature. This evidence along with the identity of perpetrators will then be referred for criminal prosecution.

HM Revenue & Customs (‘Inland Revenue’) has been briefed about the event and has been provided with the details of numerous animal dealers (regardless of whether they refer to themselves as ‘hobbyist breeders/sellers’ or formal traders) from APA’s files. This information has been gathered from previous events at the Dome, declarations from dealers themselves and other recent online evidence, including those who have announced their intentions to attend the Dome event Sunday. APA has suspected for some time that animal dealers, even those claiming to be ‘hobbyists’, can make substantial sums of money selling unlawfully at markets here and abroad, and these monies should be declared to HMRC - the consequences of not doing so can be very grave for offenders. APA has requested that HMRC has an undercover presence at the event and its car parks.

APA is stepping up its actions even further this year to catch those who flout the law, forsake animal welfare and flog wild animals for profit.

Further information:

Doncaster Council’s letter to APA reads as follows:

To confirm our position:

1. As landlord to Doncaster Community Leisure Trust we have requested that they impose a condition on the show organisers that there will be a total prohibition on animal sales. This will be communicated to the organisers by the Trust.

2. In the event that the show now proceeds, officers from our enforcement teams will attend the event to monitor with a view to prosecuting breaches.

In relation to Richard Buxton's letter of 7 June, his interpretation of the law is agreed and will be communicated to relevant officers. In the event that the show proceeds, letters will be issued to the organiser and stallholders.


(Legal Section, Doncaster Council)