Animal Aid

Henley Market to close!

Posted 12 March 2007

We are pleased to announce that Henley in Arden market will be closing after more than 100 years of trading in animals.

Having seen Animal Aid's footage of the Warwickshire market in 2002, actor Martin Shaw described it as 'a scene from Hell painted by Bruegel'. Like us he was delighted that, following our campaign, Stratford District Council revoked their license to sell pets. But that wasn't the end of the suffering for animals at Henley and last year, Animal Aid sent an undercover investigator back to the market.

From the back of a van in the car park, rabbits, pigeons and ferrets were being sold to anyone who wanted them. Shoved into boxes with no air holes or water, the rabbits looked frightened and lethargic.

Inside the market, more rabbits were crammed into cardboard boxes, again with no access to water. A Trading Standards officer told us that this was because the rabbits were so crammed in that they would only knock a water bowl over.

Rabbits were put into cages alongside chickens, quail and other birds, creating the potential for cross-infection. The noise was deafening; the stress unimaginable.

When the auction began, some rabbits were sold to be pets; others were destined for the pot, and we believe that some may have been sold as bait for lampers and in greyhound training. The rabbits sold for an average of £1.50 each, their fate nothing more than a lottery.

While filming the plight of the rabbits, our investigator spotted something else: what appeared to be fighting cockerels being sold openly through the market while Trading Standards officers looked on. Talking to one officer about a particularly large and thoroughly battered bird, our investigator said: 'Obviously, he's been fighting, hasn't he?' In reply, the officer admitted, 'that's what they are'.

There was much interest in this same shabby, worn-out cockerel, with potential buyers queuing up to view him. He had been sold just a few weeks before through the same market and was now brought back, to be sold again. Our investigator tracked down the bird's seller and asked him if the bird 'gets stuck in'. He replied: 'Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.' This poor creature was sold for £49, his destiny unthinkable.

Since we exposed the horrors of this market, sales dropped. Visitors throughout the autumn and winter reported fewer animals for sale than before. Even in the weeks running up to Christmas, there were fewer rabbits for sale than expected. And not a fighting bird in sight.

The sale of the land will be complete on March 12th but the new owner will lease the land back to the market for a few months while they wind down.

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