A pet store company has been fined almost $11,000 for the improper care of four animals in its care.

E Z Step Ltd, trading as Petstop, was fined $10,687 yesterday after pleading guilty to four charges under the Animal Welfare Act.

It is the first time SPCA has prosecuted a pet store.

The conviction came after two separate incidents at two of the companies stores in Auckland.

Advertisement

The first investigation of Petstop started in February 2015, when Petstop's own
veterinarian complained to SPCA.

This was concerning a black and white kitten with a ruptured cornea, presented to her for treatment at Petstop's Newmarket store.

The veterinarian recommended that a decision be made promptly by Petstop about the kitten's future.

The options outlined were to treat the eye with appropriate medications, then remove the eyeball if treatment was unsuccessful, or to euthanise the kitten.

The veterinarian had formed the opinion that the kitten was in severe pain, and expected
pain relief to be collected promptly and provided to the kitten - irrespective of the decision made by Petstop regarding the kitten's future.

However, no pain relief was collected, leaving the kitten in severe pain until a decision to euthanise was made three days later.

After euthanising the kitten, the vet notified SPCA.

In relation to this incident, following a guilty plea, Petstop accepted that it ought to have arranged treatment for the kitten more promptly to alleviate its pain.

Advertisement

The second investigation began in April 2015 when an SPCA Inspector attended the
Dominion Rd Petstop in response to a complaint concerning the welfare of two
leopard geckos and a water dragon displayed for sale.

The two leopard geckos were in an enclosure that had no temperature or humidity controls or gauges.

The water dragon was in an enclosure with no heat, UV light source, or temperature or humidity gauges, and there was no substrate on the floor.

The three reptiles and their enclosures were taken into possession by the SPCA Inspector and taken to a veterinarian.

Two exotic species vets confirmed that the enclosures for the two geckos were insufficient for their needs in accordance with good practice and scientific knowledge.

This environment would, over time, have resulted in the geckos suffering physiological stress, a lowering of their immune systems, and consequent exposure to disease.

The SPCA welcomed the conviction, with chief executive Andrea Midgen saying: "When an animal is in the custody of its owner, breeders, or pet stores, these people are
completely responsible for the welfare of that animal.

"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."

Midgen added that when people were thinking of adopting an animal, it was "imperative" they were gained from "reputable sources that maintain a high standard of animal welfare".

A statement provided to the Herald by Petstop said it accepts that its care of those animals in early 2015 could have been better and it has acknowledged that to the 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," it said.

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

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