I was asked a simple question today and realised that the answer was not as simple as it seemed. Are you selling animals at the moment? I have put out this message to explain our current position and the reasoning behind it.
The current legislation, for very obvious and humanitarian reasons, seeks to limit peoples movements and to keep people at home. This is not, as some people think to stop the virus spreading, it is to slow the rate of spread down and keep hospital numbers manageable. We clearly should not be doing anything as a community business to work against this effort. No one should be going out for any reason other than those listed as permissable by the government guidelines, such as to get to work, medical or care reasons, esssential supplies etc.
We obviously fit into essential supplies for most of our products. Pet foods are essential, pets have to eat. Bedding material, medical and water treatments, shampoos, brushes etc can also be considered essential, if not immediately within a few days. Animals will still defecate and urinate so you have to clean them out. Fish will still need water changes, animals still get minor ailments and infestations. I suspect self isolation would be a lot more unpleasant if your cat had fleas you could not treat. Groomers are closed and within a few weeks some breeds are going to become very matted (a welfare issue for the animal) and probably a bit stinky (a welfare issue for the owner!).
Other items are less clear. Is it really essential that you upgrade your budgie cage right now? Probably not. Will it cause any welfare issues to wait a few weeks until the restrictions are hopefully lifted? Probably not. Best to stay at home. Of course you may be coming to the shop anyway to buy bird seed and then, well you are not making an extra journey so that would be acceptable. Don’t use the food as an excuse though, we are all trying to be responsible at the moment. However if your cage breaks and the bird can no longer be secured then it is now essential. Not so simple is it?
Animals seem more obvious but are they? Now is not the time to be leaving home to buy a new pet. In fact, under the current legislation it will possibly earn you a fine. So we are not selling animals for this reason at present. Please still contact us for advice on what you need and how to care for any animal we sell. Even reserve the animal if you wish but put off actually coming in to pick it up until after the restrictions are lifted. We will look after it for you at no charge.
Sometimes however it is not so clear cut. I’ve long said that keeping spiders is habit forming, if not out and out addictive! If someone is in the shop buying livefood for their collection or substrate for repotting, or a larger enclosure etc, then spotting a spider in store that they have been waiting to get and buying it at the same time is not adding to the risk of spreading the virus at all and we would be willing to sell the animal under that circumstance. The journey was being made anyway.
The only other circumstance we are selling animals at the moment is where animal welfare is the main reason for purchase. Some animals are very social. Loss of a cage mate can cause serious depression and in extreme circumstances the premature death of the remaining pet. Rats are one obvious example of this but it can also be seen in rabbits, guinea pigs and other rodents, some birds and even some shoaling fish. If an animal is suffering and you need a cage mate to alleviate that suffering then yes we will sell you an animal for that reason. We would class that as essential although it is not us that has to explain to the nice police officer what you are doing out, although we would back you up if required.
So the general message is don’t go out unless you really need to for essential supplies and be honest with yourself about this. These meassures are not in place to protect you really. They are there to protect the vulnerable members of our society who unlike you won’t just get a bit of a cold but might actually die and also the staff still required to serve customers who need these essential supplies, namely me! So don’t be surprised if I am not my normal welcoming self if you turn up having decided that the worst public health crisis to face this country for at least a generation is the time you “really need” to buy some guinea pigs, a hutch and run, some food etc. because the kids are off school and need something to do.
Well that turned into a little bit of a rant and it wasn’t supposed to. Most people are very reasonable and sensible, however in the retail trade you would be surprised at what we encounter!