Pet store fined for historic improper care of animals now has 'very good level of care', judge finds

The pet store fined over $10,000 by the SPCA for the improper care of a kitten and other animals has admitted it could have provided better care and has improved its practices accordingly.

Two leopard geckos. Source: SPCA

Petstop pleaded guilty and was convicted yesterday to four charges under the Animal Welfare Act, the SPCA said in a statement. It was ordered to pay $10,687.50 to the group.

A statement from the lawyer representing the store said that Petstop accepts that its care of a kitten with a ruptured cornea, a water dragon and two geckos in its stores in 2015 could have been better and was such acknowledged in court.

As recorded by the judge at sentencing, Petstop has improved its practices and procedures over the last number of years to provide a very good level of care for all of its animals.

“Petstop is committed to ensuring the health and welfare of all of the animals in its stores and has weekly independent vet visits to ensure that is the case,” the statement read.

“Petstop acknowledges the past breaches and thoroughly regrets them. However it assures the public that these issues are indeed in the past,” it said.

The first investigation of Petstop began on February 18, 2015, after a veterinarian complained to the SPCA over the improper care of a kitten with a ruptured cornea that had been presented for treatment at Petstop Newmarket.

The veterinarian recommended that a decision be made promptly over whether to euthanise the animal or begin treatment of the kitten's eye with medications, with a 50 per cent chance of saving the eye before removing the eyeball if treatment proved unsuccessful.

The veterinarian prescribed medication to help treat the eye and for pain relief.

The vet said the kitten was in severe pain, and expected pain relief to be collected promptly and administered to the kitten regardless of the decision over its future.

The kitten was euthanised without first attempting to treat the eye, and pain relief or other medications were not provided beforehand.

The kitten was left in pain for a considerable period, with the kitten's eye condition deteriorating over time.

The veterinarian notified the SPCA following the euthanasia.

The second investigation began in April 15, 2015, when an SPCA inspector was called to a Petstop on Dominion Road, in Auckland, following a complaint over the welfare of two leopard geckos and a water dragon on display for sale.

The leopard geckos were found in an enclosure without temperature or humidity controls or gauges, the SPCA said, and the water dragon's enclosure had no heat, UV light source, temperature or humidity gauges, and no protective layer on the floor.

The reptiles and their enclosures were taken to a veterinarian by the inspector. Two exotic species vets confirmed the geckos' enclosure was insufficient and that the environment would have, over time, resulted in them suffering from physiological stress, lowered immune systems, and exposure to disease.

"When an animal is in the custody of its owners, breeders or pet stores, these people are completely responsible for the welfare of that animal," SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen said in a statement. "This kitten suffered acute pain while at the pet store and was in pain for days after.

"Your obligations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 are the same whether you are an individual, farm, or business. It is unacceptable that a pet store allowed animals to suffer under their watch."