Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

Record store fights to keep 15-year-old deaf cat after customer complaint

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A Tauranga store owner defending his resident cat has been inundated with support after a complaint was made to authorities in an effort to shut the shop down.

Vinyl Destination specialises in records, comics, toys - and coffee. It is also home to Callaway the cat, who is as much a part of the store as the cash register.

Owner Luke Wormald said the 15-year-old deaf cat was a much loved part of the store and even had his own Facebook page.

Mr Wormald said he received a message on Facebook from someone telling him people around town were talking about the cat and that "you shouldn't be allowed to do it".

"He put a post up saying 'this is terrible, this is a cat in a place where you sell food'," Mr Wormald said.

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"I said 'hey, we don't sell food' and he came back saying 'this is very unprofessional, it's disgusting. I've been in this city for 15 years, etc.' I basically told him to get a life. Two hours later I get a call from the council saying they've had an anonymous phone call complaining about the cat."

Mr Wormald said the council made it clear the shop was not in the wrong and visited it yesterday.

On Wednesday, Mr Wormald put a photo of Callaway on the Vinyl Destination Facebook page expressing his frustration at the complaint and explaining that the store and Callaway were abiding by the rules. The response has since been overwhelming, he said.

"We've had nearly 70,000 people see it. It's actually gone viral," he said. "It just goes to show that there are people who don't mind it and want us here."

Vinyl Destination moved from Auckland, opening on Tauranga's Devonport Rd about three weeks ago.

"He is our little mascot. We are going to protect him. People come in to see him every day and have a cuddle or say 'hey'."

Tauranga retailer Pamela Wilson has been bringing her purebred bichon Lilly into work with her at Maggie J shoes for eight years, mostly without complaint.

"She's just been an institution. Everyone expects her to be here. Ninety-nine per cent of my customers just love her and she loves coming in. I never have to encourage her or pick her up to bring her in. When we leave in the morning, she's there at the door, ready and waiting. But she's ready to go at 5pm too. They know."

Ms Wilson said she's only had two people in that time react negatively "and they were both just awful".

Tauranga City Council environmental monitoring manager Andrew McMath said this was the only complaint it had received in the past two years about animals being inside a premise that sells food and beverages.

"We have had the odd phone call from the public wanting to know if dogs can be in the outdoor seating parts of a restaurant, which is a simple yes," he said.

"The Food Act 2014 states: "Animals must not be allowed in any area used for the processing and handling of food. Pet animals may - at the discretion of the business - be allowed in customer areas provided food on display is protected from contamination."

Vinyl Destination is registering as a low-risk food business.

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