18 June 2014

Reptile or rabbit?

New information which aims to help potential pet owners make the right choices, could be soon available across the city.

Members of Brighton & Hove City Council’s licensing committee are considering asking pet shops in the city to distribute a new EMODE leaflet and questionnaire produced by the APA (Animal Protection Agency), based in the city.

Designed by scientists and vets, the EMODE is a new, scientific tool for assessing the suitability of any animal as a pet. It has been simplified in a leaflet and questionnaire and contains information originally published in the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental ethics.

Councillors are also being asked to agree the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health license conditions for pet shops in the city. The Licenses are designed to protect animal welfare by creating a minimum standard for a variety of animal welfare needs including accommodation, exercise facilities, health, food and drink, cleanliness, transportation and pet care advice.

There are currently 12 pet shops licensed in Brighton & Hove. The shops are inspected annually by an Animal Welfare officer and a council appointed veterinary surgeon. The license conditions being considered state that customers must be informed about how to care for the animal purchased, and leaflets provided. Recent changes have also increased the age at which people can buy an animal to 16.

Councillors will decide whether to agree the license conditions and whether to ask shop to stock the EMODE leaflets at a meeting on June 26.

If the recommendation is agreed, Brighton & Hove could be the first council in the country to issue this advice.

Councillor Stephanie Powell, chair of the licensing committee said: “The case of the 5ft boa constrictor left in a box outside the RSPCA earlier this week is a perfect example of what can happen when people take on an exotic pet without being fully prepared.

“We welcome any initiative that provides useful advice and information for potential pet owners and helps make the right choice when considering which creature is right for them.”

If approved, stocks of leaflets would be delivered to pet shops in the city, and staff asked to voluntarily distribute them to customers.