A couple who bought animals to sell at their pet shop before they had the necessary permissions to begin trading have been prosecuted and banned from keeping animals, after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to the creatures.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Trading Standards Animal Health team led the prosecution against Ross Brown, 25, and Gemma Coxe, 28, both of Aberaman.
The pair decided to open a pet shop, RG Pet Supplies, on the Aberaman Industrial Estate and went ahead and bought a number of animals to sell, including lizards, bearded dragons, rabbits, fish, chinchillas and cats.
They then approached Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Public Health and Protection department, who told them they shouldn’t have bought the animals at such an early stage, as they had yet to secure a Pet Shop License.
They were also informed they were unlikely to secure such a license until they significantly improved the conditions in which they planned to keep the would-be pets.
They continued to keep the animals on the premises, despite the fact the shop had not begun trading. Officers from the Council were monitoring the animals and the situation had actually begun to improve, but then suddenly deteriorated.
A utilities worker who had been sent to the shop to cut off the power supply notified the Council as it was a pet shop and feared there could be animals inside.
Officers attended the shop with an independent vet and the RSPCA and found the animals, many of which were so poorly they had to be euthanized and others which had already died. The remainder of the animals, including rabbits, were rescued and rehomed. The building also contained large piles of rubbish, buckets of fetid water and containers of animal faeces.
As a result, the pair were each charged with a total of 18 offences under The Animal Welfare Act 2006 and The Animal By Products (Wales) Regulations 2011, all of which they admitted when they appeared at Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court.
After admitting to causing unnecessary suffering to four reptiles and failing to provide a duty of care to numerous other animals in their ownership, the pair were each sentenced to a 12-month disqualification order, banning them from keeping animals, they were each sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months and ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid work. They were also ordered to pay a contribution of £500 towards costs and an £80 victim surcharge.
David Jones, Head of Community Protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “This was a shocking case in which the strong and clear recommendations of our experts, made with the safety and welfare of all animals in mind, was blatantly ignored.
“The couple were told we would not be giving them permission to begin trading until they significantly improved the conditions in which they planned to keep the animals. Despite not even being open for business, they bought the animals, keeping them in the shop before it had even opened, leading to the unnecessary suffering of reptiles, rabbits and other small creatures.
“This is also one of our more unusual cases and goes to show the wide remit Trading Standards and Licensing Officers in the Council have, and the importance of the work they do when it comes to safeguarding our two-legged and four-legged residents.”