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Prairie dogs, monkeys on sale scandal

PRAIRIE dogs, monkeys and potentially dangerous snakes and spiders are being sold by some Irish pet stores.

Outdated laws mean there is little or no regulation when it comes to selling such exotic pets, one retailer has claimed.

The 100-year-old law is being "openly abused" and is inadequate for modern pet shops because it is up to the gardai to inspect and prosecute offenders, said Tony Cross, managing director of the 10 Maxi Zoo stores in Ireland.

"The Protection of Animals Act 1911 was drafted before the foundation of the State," he said.

"It was amended in 1965 but is completely unsuitable for the pet store business that now exists in Ireland."

While most Irish pet stores sell fish, small animals and reptiles, a number are also known to sell the exotic pets, Mr Cross said.

"What is happening in the Irish pet trade is unacceptable -- there is nothing to stop anyone opening a pet store in Ireland and stocking it with species they know nothing about," he said.



POWERS



Gardai do not have the resources to ensure the animals receive the necessary standard of care or that they are sold responsibly.

"The buck is simply passed to charities like the ISPCA who have no statutory powers to take action," he said.

His chain of shops is backing the ISPCA's proposals for the introduction of new laws.

The new legislation would require pet shops to hold a licence specifying the breed of animals it is authorised to sell and keep and to submit to regular inspections from a regulatory body solely responsible for animal welfare.

"We need to end the practice of self-regulation," he said

"Stores which sell animals must provide a universal standard of care and should be qualified to give customers qualified advice, regarding the animals they are permitted to sell."

Many reptiles are not simply suitable for the average Irish household, he said.

"A juvenile python is only bout one foot long. It can grow to 16 feet as an adult, which is long enough to strangle a young child," Mr Cross said.

"Another problem is people trying to get rid of animals like that, because they have become too large" Mr Cross added.

mlavery@herald.ie


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