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Broxbourne Council to crackdown on reptile dealers
Posted 12 July 2004
Animal Aid investigation reveals cruelty at illegal reptile fair
Cheshunt, Herts - An Animal Aid investigator documented numerous animal welfare violations while secretly filming at an illegal reptile fair which took place at Broxbourne Civic Hall yesterday. The International Herpetological Society (IHS), organisers of the event, failed to apply to Broxbourne Borough Council for a licence under the Pet Animals Act, 1951 - a legal requirement - leaving the council unaware of the event until the last moment.
Although the reptile fair was billed as a 'members' only' event, a tactic often employed by disingenuous reptile dealers trying to circumnavigate the law, our investigator was allowed unrestricted entry without question. Video evidence taken inside shows animals crammed inside small cardboard take-away boxes with only a few small puncture holes for air. The boxes were frequently stacked two or three high reducing airflow even further. Others were kept in empty margarine tubs with no respite from the gazing public. Many of the traders had travelled for hours to and from the event, meaning some animals spent up to 12 hours in these appalling conditions.
Animal Aid alerted Broxbourne Council to the planned fair two days before the event and urged them to take immediate action to stop the event. Unfortunately, due to the short notice - another tactic regularly used by reptile dealers - the event went ahead. However, Broxbourne Council issued a statement the following day asserting that they will require a "full and thorough risk assessment to be carried out before any future events, with a view to preventing any such events that present a health risk to the public." As over 90% of reptiles carry Salmonella, it is unlikely that reptile fairs would meet these criteria.
Said Animal Aid spokesperson Toni Vernelli:
"We commend the council's decision. The outcome is obviously good news for the animals and regular users of the Civic Hall can also breathe a sigh of relief. Even with the best intentions in the world, it's impossible to care for reptiles properly in captivity. According to US pet industry data, the majority of reptiles in captivity die within a year. In an artificial environment they also pose a significant risk to human health."